An Olive Branch for the Puppies

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Do we want an endless cycle of block voting and no awards?

Do we want an endless war between Puppies and Non-Puppies?

Or, like humans and Klingons, can we learn to lay down arms and live together in peace?

I have a modest proposal, but it will take participation from both sides.

Look, Puppies, if your goal is lols or the destruction of everything we hold dear, then, no, there is no middle ground.

But if you’re honestly looking for recognition of your work and maybe actually winning a Hugo, that’s different.

Puppies, I am not unsympathetic to your desire for more stories about spaceships, aliens and robots – and distain for most urban fantasy and mopey teenagers in dreary dystopias. Hey, I love military SF (yeah, Forever War!), too, and I’m bored by genre work that doesn’t have a cool idea – maybe even a hardcore science idea – at its core.

As for your politics… It’s ok with me if some of the heroes are straight white men. I know some of you are Christians and you feel persecuted for that. I am a Christian, too, and I’ve been bullied. But I try to love everyone – whether I agree with them or not.

And so, Puppies, I’m not for censorship or draconian political correctness or trigger warnings. Personally, I think anyone should be able to say whatever they want in the SFWA Bulletin – and people also free to vehemently disagree in response.

I may not agree with everything you think but I’m big enough to let you say them. I’m not afraid of words. Science fiction should be a big enough tent for everyone.

What I am opposed to, is block voting. This is considered rude and will get you no-awarded every time.

My proposal?

What if you Puppies gave up block voting in exchange for Non-Puppies seriously considering your work for recommendation lists?

I’m defining block voting as the presentation of a finished slate, with the call or command for others to vote the slate, perhaps even without reading the pieces, for lols or to advance an agenda.

A recommendation list – and I’ve done this and been on them – is an acknowledgement that there are thousands of stories published every year, but, hey, look, I found a couple I loved. Maybe you’d like them, too, and if so feel free to nominate them. If not, whatever. One year I told everyone over and over how awesome Greg Van Eekhout’s story “In the Late December” was. Not because Greg asked me to, not because of his politics (which I know nothing about), but because I really loved that story. A recommendation list is a suggestion, not a command.

So, Puppies, my offer is this. If you send me some of your best 2015 publications – email them at FWu@FrankWu.com – I promise to read them and evaluate them on their merits. Regardless of your politics or anything else you may have said in any other venue. And if I like it (which is more likely if it has robots, spaceships, or aliens), I will add it to my recommendation list.
And I will do this by the end of January (in plenty of time for nominating). If you don’t believe me, well, you’ll have time to rev up your voting block engine – but then, of course, if you do so, we will be DONE.

But my voice is only of moderate size.

Which is where you, Non-Puppies, come in.

What if some Big Name Authors were willing to do this, too? People will take it seriously if Big Name Author honestly recommends a Puppy’s story, solely on its merits. That attention may help you get on the Hugo ballot, without the risk of being no awarded that would come with block voting.

What do you think? Puppies? Non-Puppies?

Can we give peace a chance?

War is over if you want it.

28 COMMENTS

  1. Forwarded From Thomas Trumpinski

    Damn it to hell. I’ve been trying to get on the site for an hour and their registration system thinks I’m a spammer and I cannot convince them otherwise.
    Could someone please copy this and send it on to Frank Wu?
    Dear Frank:
    I’m a member of the cat herd that made up about 10% of the voters in this year’s Hugo voting–the Sad Puppies. Since there’s no one giving orders, I speak only for myself.
    I want to say, first off, that I like peace. Who doesn’t, after all? Scorched villages don’t produce much but sorrow. I’ve been a member of the SF community since I attended my first con in 1977 and have been to Worldcons from Denver to London with three stops in Chicago. I love our art forms, whether they be written or visual, like yours.
    Your offer, though, seems a bit off. First of all, there’s not really two-fisted straight white guys with ray-guns involved. Brad might have said something once, but that’s just silly. Somehow, the narrative has come to revolve around that. Eric Flint has a wonderful article today in his blog about that.
    The offer that you make to look over our stories and critique them is somewhat puzzling, too. Why would I, or any one else take your word on quality over those of our peers? I sell stories regularly. Larry Correia is a best-seller. We don’t need critics, we need a chance to compete fairly.
    Which comes to the real point of why I’ve become involved with the puppies. For the last fifteen years, the Hugo nominations gave been dominated by a small group of people who have gotten on the ballot, year after year, with a tiny number of nominating votes…a small enough number that a person could recruit the nominators at a typical con party, and you’ve been one of those.
    The three last years you were nominated for Best Fan Artist, it was with 55, 59, and 22 nominating votes. Each time, you went on to win.
    Patrick Neilsen Hayden has had six nominations and two wins in the last decade. Nominating votes for his win years? 80 and 63. If the puppies had not existed, he would have gotten on the ballot again this year.
    John Scalzi, eight nominations and three wins–nominating numbers as low as 31, no puppies, he’d have been on the ballot again.
    Mary Robinette Kowal, who bought a hundred supporting memberships for random fans this year. (Not really random, in truth-they’d have to read her blog in order to apply, of course) eight nominations and four wins. No puppies, back on the ballot again.
    Mike Glyer, File 770–six nominations in the last decade, one win..maximum nominating votes, 45.
    Repeat after me, no puppies, back on the ballot.
    You see the pattern here? There are slots on the ballot in different categories, that end up reserved for the same old circle of friends, year after year.
    Screw the politics, this is what it’s really all about. In each of the four cases above, the individuals mentioned have been virulently anti-puppy, and it’s no surprise why. They are deeply invested in the status quo.
    Tell you what, if you can talk John, Mike, Mary, and Patrick from accepting any more nominations, I’ll be willing to live and let live.
    Oh, and please ask your wife to stop saying that I’m controlled by GamerGate, OK?

    • Thomas, sorry you can’t get to the site; it may be our spam filter and I’ll look into that.

      I get what you are saying, but I think that everything you are saying is trumped by this fact: ANYONE can join WSFS. ANYONE can nominate. ANYONE can vote.
      The fact that nomination numbers have been low in years past is not indicative of a cabal – all it means is that few people attending have availed themselves of all of their membership rights.
      BTW: you totally mis-characterize what Mary did; she offered to buy memberships for anyone. (Oh, and a lot ofpeople found her blog from puppy-related sources that complained that she was buying votes…)
      Further, your argument would be stronger if there had been such a thing as a Puppy contingent throughout the history of the awards, but there hasn’t been until three years ago.
      If you want to be angry about something, I suggest that you find a real issue to get angry about.
      Why should you trust Frank? Because Frabk is well-respected in the field and has a lot of friends. Friends he can talk to about helping to resolve this issue, so long as we get past the unsubstantiated rhetoric first and get down to real issues.
      Why haven’t the works YOU think are deserving of nomination getting nominated? Because the majority of people who have bothered to nominate in the past didn’t nominate them. I’m sorry, but it is as simple as that. How do we change that? Join WSFS. Tell other people about the works you’ve enjoyed. Tell other people who you plan to nominate and why.
      But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because you think something is worthy means it is, will get nominated or win, or the worse trap of believing that because it didn’t, there is some conspiracy that prevented it from doing so.
      And don’t TELL others how to vote, don’t associate it with some mundane political agenda and don’t attack people who disagree with you. Put your opinion out there and hope for the best. That’s what the rest of us have been doing since 1955.

  2. Hello Frank. It’s Wendy from over at A&A in case you don’t recognize my old LJ handle.

    Many of the new fans Sad Puppies brought in do not even KNOW there is such a thing as the Locus Recommended Reading list. Once they understand simple things like that things will get easier. Hell, they did not even know what SMOF stood for. ‘We need to educate the new fans rather than castigate them. That’s what my goal will be in 2016.

    We need more posts like yours, where we are looking for solutions instead of yelling at each other.

  3. I find all of this a little disingenuous.

    I see these articles get longer and longer. Replies to them as well. It’s actually very, very simple.

    The Sad Puppies set out to highlight a problem in the awards by publicly announcing they would do the same thing, and how.

    Then, they did it.

    If the Hugos participants had voted on merit and only that, perhaps an article like this would make more sense. Instead, campaigns were enacted to snub *every* Sad Puppies nominated creator, regardless of merit.

    Thus were the Sad Puppies proven right. They smoked out an agenda driven process and an equally agenda driven response set fire to the awards.

    Year of the Asterisk indeed.

    If you want to hold out an olive branch, working together to assure this does not, or cannot happen from either side would be a step.

    But saying “Hey, just trust the system” is a poisoned apple. It is rewarding proven bad behavior with yet more influence over the awards.

    “Check with us, and if WE approve, we’ll go from there.”

    I’m not a Sad Puppy, but if I were I’d tell them no thanks.

    • There is no cabal. The Puppies ginned it up to give themselves something to rant about. There is no agenda. “Working together” is what has prevailed since 1954: anyone can join, anyone can nominate, anyone can vote.
      It has also been true that since 1954, there has been a collective ban on campaigning. Those who have broken that social contract in the past were handed the exact same results as this year – No Award.
      If we all agreed, one again, that campaigning, slating, bloc voting is something that FANDOM DOES NOT DO FOR THE HUGO AWARDS, all potential nominees would start from a level playing field. If you think about it, this would actually be to the benefit of the self-identified puppies, since its looking right now like its about 4 to 1 against slates.
      I personally will continue to vote No Award above any work(s) appearing in a campaign – regardless of the work, the originator or anything else surrounding it. This year I voted against my personal desires by putting Guardians of the Galaxy below No Award, BECAUSE it was on a slate.
      If we agree to do away with the campaigning, maybe we can begin to address whatever other concerns may exist. If those surrounding and involved with the Sad Puppies believe they are not getting the attention and consideration they should be, I will be happy to accept content that addresses that perception: if the focus is on conservative politics – someone ought to do a piece on recommended works; if the focus is on religious subjects, someone can do the same; if the focus is on “good ol’ rip-roaring space opera”, please let the audience here know.
      When this incarnation of Amazing Stories started, I requested and received participation from over 50 people (we’re now over 170). There were no litmus tests. There are no editorial guidelines, other than “write about what interests you”. I do not edit content (other than to correct basic errors) and I do not tell anyone how to write or what position to take; I have, very infrequently, asked an author if what they wrote is what they actually want to say in public. Upon receiving an affirmative, the piece gets published.
      I have my own views on issues and express them accordingly – as editorial content. Others are free to do the same.
      I’ve received a handful of “never going to Amazing again” emails and comments, which is foolish when the alternative is to have a voice.
      We’ve got over 23,000 fans registered with this site. It is meant for every fan.
      Try me.
      (Caveat: hateful screeds need not apply)

      • Me. Davidson, you’ve been pretty consistent as I recall that your objection is to “slate voting.” However, some of the people you associate with have referred to Sad Puppies as racists, homophobes, misogynists, only wanting straight white males to win, etc. Patrick Nielsen Hayden even compared us to “the Child-Rapers” at a fictitious next-door Con. As is said in my earlier comment, “Sad Puppies” are all of us fans, every one a reader who loves and buys science fiction and fantasy. That kind of language hardly has any place in a discussion about what works are Hugo-worthy or not. Like a lot of others, I really don’t see that I need anyone’s endorsement of my tastes to nominate, and if the only service you or Mr. Wu offers is talking to your peers about what your impression of my tastes are, then I don’t really see how that’s different than campaigning…except that if be pushing uphill against the community that already doesn’t share my tastes.

        What would be of service is using your position within Fandom to speak out against the lies, hyperbole, and hateful speech of your peers against the fans. That’s right – we are fans too, and even if we are only 10-20% of Fandom, we don’t deserve the language and vitriol spewed by many of the Old Guard (as I’ve come to call them).

        Will you publicly renounce that kind of discourse and lobby for civility? Perhaps there we can begin to build a bridge.

        • Steve (you can call me Steve too):

          First, what does this “some of the people you associate with” mean?
          Do you refer to sites I may read? The people I have brought on board to post? Items I’ve included in Sunday news? People outside of fandom?
          Your statement obviously implies that I am either “in a particular camp of associates”, or that everyone I associate with has expressed views in disagreement with your own, or possibly both. Hold me accountable for what I say and do and write, but please don’t assume that you know who I “associate” with.
          Second; where and when (and if – memory does not serve right now so I’ll not make blanket statements) I have referred to racism, homophobia, misogyny, etc., I have, I believe, been careful to be addressing a specific statement or action, rather than the individual responsible*. People can be those things, and their words and actions could certainly bring one to a similar conclusion, but until I know a person as a person, rather than as bits and bytes, I’m reluctant to label them. My personal intent in discussing such things is to never stereotype as I hate it when people do that about me.
          Third; I can’t be held responsible in any way, shape or form for what someone else may say. Even if the gist of what they are saying is something I agree with, you better believe that I’ll put my own words in my own mouth, thank you. I’m loquacious that way: even if I agree with whatever you say 100% and there’s no need for elaboration, I still like to hear myself talk.
          Fourth; I’m not aware of the statement you claim Patrick made and therefore can’t respond. I do like to read full statements and learn the context before commenting. (And for the record, every single time one of the more prominent puppies has been called out for making some statement or other, I visit the source and read everything.)
          Quick aside regarding statements and context: after a day of playing paintball (when the game was hardly known), my teammates and I used to love to go to a local diner and talk loudly about the day; there we were, two or three or four grungy looking guys in sweaty cammo, loudly proclaiming things like “man, when I shot that guy, you shoulda seen his face”. More than once the cops were called until we learned better.
          Anyway.
          Fifth, your statement would lead one to believe that only those who voted against the puppy slates made unacceptable comments, and if we are being honest here, we know that’s not true.
          With all of that being said, I’ll be happy to publicly state that none of the hateful rhetoric surrounding the 2015 Hugo Awards helped the situation at all, we would all have been better off without it and I would be grateful if everyone involved would do two things: renounce slates, campaigning and bloc voting for the Hugo Awards across the board and agree to discuss this issue as FANS, not as people with political or personal or any other kind of agenda that seeks to use the awards, or fandom, to advance some cause.
          I would further like to request that anyone who considers themselves to be a fan, do themselves and other fans a favor and learn about the community, its ideals and mores FIRST, before jumping in and telling fandom what it is, should do or should be. There is a rich, deep and valuable history there. You may not agree with all of it, but its largely pointless to fight against something when you do not understand its origins. By way of hopefully non-enraging example: woe be to the wannabe fan who begins to rail against the use of extra “H”s in fanspeak because the extra silent letter is unnecessary.
          Finally: Steve, thanks for a calm, rational comment. I don’t agree completely with the picture you paint, but I get where you are coming from. I don’t think that Frank’s offer was intended as someone being placed over your “taste” – you are free to vote however you want to, even to endorse a slate – once you’re a member of Worldcon and no one can justifiably question your personal choice. They can disagree with the motivations behind it; they can have their own opinions about why they think you voted the way you did, but they can’t reasonably attack personal choice. I know Frank very well and believe his offer was a genuine and honest attempt to “build a bridge”.
          I personally remain convinced, from my own personal experience, that there has been no prior action like that which the various puppies engaged in this year and I remain personally, adamantly, opposed to such activities, regardless of who initiates them. That being said, I still also see a significant difference between “recommending” and “campaigning”, between “suggested reading” lists and “slates”. I’ve no problem at all if Brad or Sarah or Larry or whomever want to publish a “who I’m voting for this year” list, or want to replicate Scalzi’s eligibility posts with one of their own, or even if they want to publish an annual Puppy Recommended Reads list like some of the (long-standing) SF clubs do. But like voting in the US after the civil war, those actions will be subject to additional scrutiny for some time to come, until most fans are convinced that no campaigning is associated with it. We’ve not questioned the motives of such in the past because the individuals and groups responsible have not engaged in stepping over the line. Of course, I’d much prefer to go back to the old days of “just not doing anything that even hints of that” at all (when some people undoubtedly whispered to their friends but only had an impact when the general voting population already agreed with them.
          * (except perhaps in Mr. Card’s case, but that’s a different issue)

          • Steve – first of all, thanks for your lengthy response. It helped clarify where I may have been unclear, and it outlined thoroughly your own position. Let me first and foremost apologize for any lack of clarity (and the spelling mistakes) in what I wrote. I’ve switched to the full-sized keyboard/laptop for this note, since I think this is a *very* important conversation you and Mr. Wu (and the rest of us) are engaged in, and I don’t want my poor tired thumbs to be part of derailing it.

            First and foremost, if I wasn’t clear before allow me to say again that I think you personally have been remarkably principled and consistent in your opposition to what you perceived as a slate/bloc vote. You made your position explicit, were not to my knowledge offensive in any way, and while you forcefully stated your position on several forums/threads on Facebook we both frequent, it was never done rudely. Nor have I ever seen you engage personally in pejorative ad hominem attacks on anyone. From what I’ve seen, you formulated an opinion based on your own ethical/moral standards and stuck to it, even when a lot of folks were attempting to argue it was not the correct one.

            You did it right.

            You are also a voice within Fandom. While you are correct that I do not know who you associate with, you are clearly well known. I cannot begin to determine how influential you are, but I am going to go out on a limb and guess that you have more influence than I (having been part of this community for only a few years), or many of my fellow Sad Puppy voters. I am not and would not ask you to lobby for Sad Puppies in any way. I am asking you to lobby for civility and respect. Essentially, I’m asking you to remind Fandom and specific people should you correspond with them (Arthur Chu, the Nielsen-Haydens, Feder, etc.) that when they publicly label Sad Puppies as they are actually insulting fans and customers. In many cases (like PNH specifically) we are fans of authors they edit, and buy their works. We don’t deserve to be treated the way some of what I euphemistically and humorously call “the Old Guard” have treated us.

            I get that we are still learning the culture (many of us have actually been involved for a long time by the way and get the culture very well thank you). I get that this year’s “slate” was offensive because it was counter-culture, even if it violated no rules. I understand that it was an offense compounded by the fact that some perceived we were “calling their baby ugly” by our assertion that the Hugos no longer represented what we thought was good in SFF. Some of our more outspoken members made things worse with our own conduct and speech. There’s plenty of blame to pass around for the state of affairs as they are.

            But what shouldn’t be in question is that we as fans and Fandom should not be making baseless, vile accusations about one another. The dialog regarding Sad Puppies from Fandom’s most outspoken has consistently been that the movement is racist, misogynist, and seeks to oppose diversity, when that is absolutely the furthest thing from the truth. I believe as recently as yesterday NPR ran a piece claiming the Puppies were run exclusively by white males and were embarked on a plot to prevent anyone but same from winning in 2015, and presumably ever again. The voices on the Puppy side of the equation have been very outspoken saying, “that’s not what we are about or who we are at all.” The voices from Fandom have been absolutely silent.

            That silence in the face of the inaccuracy of the claim is either tacit approval, or agreement with the premise, and its wrong.

            You aren’t accountable for all of this any more than Mr. Wu is. The people who raised a lot of that ruckus and spewed that filth on both sides aren’t part of this discussion today. But if you are correct about Mr. Wu’s intent, and you are honest about yours, to put this schism behind us and move forward to create a bigger, more diverse Fandom, all of us have a part to play in stopping the hatred and vile speech. I’ve been very public in Puppy-spaces trying to influence that change, as well as in others. But I’m one voice, and can’t be everywhere, all the time. A wise friend of mine, a preacher, once said that it was more important to the evangelical movement to teach 1,000 new preachers than it was to win 1,000 souls for Christ. It took me a bit to think that logic through – it’s a pyramid scheme. Many hands make light work. We need lots of voices, with lots of different perspectives calling for civility and mutual respect, and holding our peers accountable when they fall short of the mark. I think you can help. Your post, and Mr. Wu’s op ed are a great first start. But I’m asking you to go a step further. Either way, I will continue calling for respect and correcting people when they make personal attacks. I hope you’ll join me. It would be nice to enjoy MidAmeriCon without the deep divisions in the genre we all love, regardless of what’s on the ballot.

  4. As you can see, Frank, emotions are a bit high right now.
    If you are willing to fairly consider submissions fairly, well, I think that is all the Sad Puppies have ever asked.

  5. You never did grok us. You never will.

    You think we should not oppose you after you invaded our genre and declared our favorite authors reprehensible. You suppose we might retreat now, after your bigotry and malice has so recently been brought into the light by your block voting No Award lest an award go to the ideologically impure. You hope that we would compromise with the kind of people who celebrate known child rapists but freeze out a Christian for adhering to the wrong faith. You want us to give up all of our power in exchange for a promise that you will start doing what you should have done all along – as if we would believe anything you say after experiencing decades of your lies and libels.

    Do you mistake us for Republicans? Or perhaps Charlie Brown to your Lucy?

    The response to your offer is no. This is our genre. That was our award. We built it, not you. If we cannot stop your desecration by taking it back, we have to burn it down and start over. We can build something new. You have proven, to everyone willing to see, that there is no other choice: wine and sewage cannot be stored in the same bottle. In the process, we will have to expose your ludicrous philosophy as the madness it is, and you for the morlocks you are. We no longer care how much pain that causes you.

    • Of course, SP3 was also explicitly a recommendation list, and was not a complete slate, and was a list of suggestions which it’s audience might enjoy and therefore consider nominating. So on one hand you should have very little reason to doubt that SP4 will not be a slate by your definition; and on the other hand we have real cause to doubt you. We’ll see.

      • Just make sure your recommendation lists have fewer than four or more than seven recommendations per category, and all will be well. It’s when you have four, five, six or seven recommendations in a category that it looks like you’re running a slate to exploit the loophole in the current nomination system. With fewer than four you can’t dominate a category, and with more than seven your nominations should be reasonably well spread out.

      • The only complete slate I am aware of was the one sponsored by Tor’s editors and displayed on a number of websites which advocated vote “no award” if the nominees were on the SP list. With people like that bound and determined to deny Tony Weiskopf a well-deserved award why the hell do you think anything you say can be trusted by the SP? Do you really thin k we are that stupid?

        Here’s a clue: Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice; shame on me.

        • Jon: please provide a link to the websites that advocated no award at the request of the TOR editors (by whom I suppose you are referring to Patrick and Teresa and not necessarily all of the editors at TOR – there’s a bunch).
          I am aware of many websites that stated that they would be voting No Award. My editorials on the subject was one such. But I did not recruit, nor ask anyone to replicate it, nor use any other powers of persuasion – other than the argument itself – to convince others to do as I recommended. I’m not aware that “Tor’s editors” did anything different.

  6. Mr. Wu,

    I firmly identify myself as a Puppy – a Sad one to be specific. Personally I appreciate your post and your offer. I think it’s a good one. I don’t speak for the Sad Puppies, but I have said in several forums that where we went wrong this year was in presenting recommendations that were perceived as a voting slate. The data from the Hugos released so far seems to substantiate that we Puppies did not actually vote in a bloc. I admit, it looks a lot like the Rabids did and He Who Shall Not Be Named has certainly crowed about that. But I’ve come to believe that doesn’t matter. It was perceived as a slate, as orders to an upstart militia. Maybe even some of he militia perceived it that way. In retrospect, that was a mistake and it was wrong.

    That said, considering works the Puppies (myself included) enjoy is really only one part of the issue. It’s a great step forward, but shouldn’t part of the olive branch include dialing down the rhetoric just a bit. You see, many prominent members of Fandom are fond of saying “The Puppies are blah blah hateful thing inaccuracy…” I’m pretty sure that when they say or write those things, they have a specific Puppy or Puppies in mind. But the truth is, we ALL consider ourselves Puppies, and we perceive that you are all saying those hateful, hurtful things about all of us, fellow fans and people who love this genre, and whose dollars support it. If we are to be sensitive to your perceptions, without regard to what we meant, shouldn’t you be sensitive to ours?

    Mr Wu, the truth is, if Fandom’s greats and Old Guard were the only folks buying SFF and related works, this wouldn’t be an issue. But you only have to look at who attended this year’s WorldCon to see that isn’t so. Worse, the demographics of Fandom are increasingly skewed to the right, from an age perspective. Absent new, vibrant blood flowing into Fandom, where will this group be in 10, 20, 30 years? What will we and our children be reading? I submit that if both we Puppies and the Puppy-Kickers can’t find a way to achieve rapprochement then it will not be Hugo Award winning works, because the Hugos will die out.

    So yes sir, I will send you the titles of things I find interesting that might not otherwise get noticed by the Old Guard of Fandom. Will you in turn not only evaluate it on its merits, but cease the baseless accusations and hateful speech against the organizers and our entire group? And will you publicly exhort your fellows to do the same?

    • You’re absolutely correct about the root of the problem being the slate (the other part, for me, as a writer who hasn’t been as successful as Larry or Brad, is that they’re both freaking Campbell nominees, proving themselves that yes, conservatives can get nominated for major awards.)

      “We *perceive* that you are *all* saying those hateful, hurtful things…” Also part of the problem. As an adult, you should be able to distinguish between individuals who are saying hurtful things, and those who are not, and to further process that those things reflect more about the person than they do you. And that so much of this came from exploiting a rule by people making stuff up, or apparently unable to grok that people like different stuff. (Brad’s accusation that people who voted for ‘Ancillary Justice’ not because they thought it was awesome but out of ‘affirmative action’ was…unhelpful.)

      As for the age–yeah, Worldcon skews old. Always has. Not a problem.

      • I agree there is much that could have been done differently. The problem (from my perspective – you will likely disagree) is that there have been three Sad Puppy campaigns, run by two different people, with three different approaches. The reaction to all three by a vocal portion of Fandom has been to label anyone associated with the Puppy movement as racist, homophobic, and against diversity. Each time the tactics of the Puppies have changed, the reaction from Fandom has been more vociferous, more vitriolic, and more hateful. That undercuts the notion that the current schism rides squarely on our shoulders.

        I’ve thought a lot over the past few months about the reaction from Fandom the past several years, and this year in particular. Even before the award ceremony the other night I had come to the conclusion that as much as the Old Guard of Fandom and it’s devotees (my humorous nom de guerre for the group of vocal Puppy Kickers) didn’t understand us, what we were saying, or what our objectives were, we weren’t listening to Fandom either. There was a segment that was outraged that we used the rules to our advantage. Believe me when I say that we never expected to be so successful, and we honestly didn’t vote in lockstep as much as we did an effective job at nomination time of turning out the vote. That said, we could have been perceived as calling the baby ugly – we were attacking the integrity of the Hugos from a certain point of view. We were outspoken that stories/works we liked weren’t getting their due, and that we thought it was because of bias in the process and in Fandom.

        Now, let’s assume for the purpose of discussion that there *is no bias* in SFF, either in publishing or in Fandom. Let’s assume there are just as many people of every stripe politically, socially, ethnically, etc. and that they all have perfectly equal voices and don’t collaborate at all on how to nominate or vote.

        If 10-20% of Fandom has a *belief* that bias exists, and that things winning awards aren’t really worth being on the ballot at all, shouldn’t Fandom as a whole stop and look at things for just a moment and consider whether that could be the case? The quickest way to dispense with a conspiracy theory is to pull it into the open and discuss it. The quickest way to enshrine it in the canon is to accuse anyone who postulates the theorem as a racist, or homophobe, or whatever other pejorative you can come up with to attack them.

        And before you overreact Greg, I get it – Puppydom has its own outspoken offenders with a love of excessive hyperbole. We have to fix that too.

        The only question I have is, rather than decide who is or is not behaving like an adult, are you willing to dig in and help?

        • Steve, some good points but I still think that to one degree or another we are talking at cross-purposes. One thing that would set me off if I wanted to allow myself to get pissed is your use of the “Puppy Kickers” name. If we’re going to work towards dropping rhetoric that doesn’t contribute to a meaningful conversation, it would seem to me that the best place to start is by US (you and me) not resorting to names. I use Puppies because that is what they have chosen to call themselves. If there is a more neutral term, please suggest one.
          The second thing we need to do is agree to deal in specifics that are based on factual, demonstrable information; failing that, where facts are not completely evident or are questionable, coming to an agreement on how much or little those will be allowed to be introduced into the conversation.
          On your points in the “I agree” post (as much as I can fit in right now):
          For me, the problem is not different tactics on the part of the puppies from one year to the next. The problem is CAMPAIGNING in any way, shape or form. The puppies did it in year one and got bad results; rather than listening to reasonable voices that were saying what I am now (no campaigns) – and I know there were quite a few reacting badly to the first go-round though I can’t cite at the moment – they doubled down the following year, got, as you say, the same response. And again they chose to ignore that and doubled down once again for this year.
          You may or may not be familiar with the fannish word “fugghead”. Clubs and cons used this word to describe someone who regularly attended but who was a jerk – repeatedly. They get talked to by friends, they get corrected by con staff, whisper campaigns float across fandom and, if they don’t eventually get the message, they eventually find that no one will spend time with them, they will feel unwanted and are encouraged to do so. Fandom is justly renowned for its tolerance. No other community I’ve ever been a part of would tolerate what I witnessed fandom tolerating (this was all before anti-harassment clauses – see, it took nearly 80 years for fandom to institute a policy, not because fandom is numb but because fandom is tolerant). The puppies were acting like fuggheads, at least it seemed that way to me, and I think fandom’s reaction over the past two years was largely the grudging tolerance reserved for fuggheads.
          Were there some that had more outraged reaction than others? used intolerant language? over-reacted? sure. But you know we generally ignore the outliers, and, for the past two years, that was, I think, largely the case.
          Now lets get to the “both sides”.
          First, there’s more than two sides.
          There are, at the very least:
          sad puppies
          rabid puppies
          GRRM
          PNH
          TNH
          Scalzi
          Moen
          Hines
          Jemisin
          Bradford
          Mixon
          Nussbaum
          Standlee
          O’Neil
          Davidson (though I’m small peanuts)
          a lot more names but this would get too long.
          I chose to lay things out this way because I think it highlights and important distinction. The Puppies chose to band together, gave themselves a name, a logo and, one presumes, other self-identifying club-like things – perhaps a mailing list, scheduled get-togethers, who knows.
          The rest of us, although we were all largely in agreement in opposition to at least some aspect of the puppies (in my case, slate voting, in other cases perhaps more than that, perhaps less than that), but we did not form an “army” (I use that word in the current internet vernacular), we did not create logos. Each of us individually shared our viewpoint.
          Fans band together, traditionally I hasten to add, and give themselves logos and mailing lists and dinners out together and etc., create “armies”, but when they do so it is to put on a con; or to form a club; or to fulfill a role or function that they perceived needs filling (Dorsai – providing con security services; SF Outreach – distributing literature at various venues to increase the base), not to gain advantage for awards and not to attack another element of fandom. (Though you may find a few outliers, exceptions that make the rule, such as the time that some Browncoat org attacked a Brony org…unless that was just hearsay. 🙂 )
          The most antagonistic grouping together of fans I’ve seen have been one set of con runners unable to come to agreement with co-workers and stalking off. To run their own convention the way they see fit.
          NOT to attack and destroy the con they are no longer working with. (Tis true this kind of thing happened early on, with Donald Wollheim apparently spending his life joining and disbanding clubs until he got what he was looking for, or, to see the other side, until he was assured that SF fandom was heading in the right direction, but sometime during the late 40s, early 50s, everyone pretty much decided that attacking each other was a lot less fun than “proving each other wrong by doing better”. We all started seeking cooperation and, failing agreement, splitting off into two or more groups, each of whom was free to do their own thing. You know what happened in a lot of cases? One group was right, the other wrong and one club or con survived while another didn’t. And you know what happened almost immediately after that? Most of the folks who’d worked on the “failure” ended up with a home at the “success”. Like now, there were some outliers who engaged in nastiness, but they were generally ignored out of existence while everyone else who could find ways to cooperate ending up moving forward. Fandom has a VERY long evolutionary history of cooperation, understanding and tolerance. It has a high regard for giving everyone their say and being accepting of things not going the way anyone personally thinks they ought to go, so long as they move forward.)
          Not only is campaigning for nominations and votes not a fannish thing, the very manner in which the puppies chose to organize and present themselves is not a fannish thing. If it had been, the puppies would have tried a couple of times to get their message across and, finding general non-acceptance, they’d have gone off to do their own thing, not attacking the award If they are right, they’d be the success. If they were wrong, eventually most of them would have come back. We’d all move forward together (and added even more to everyone’s knowledge and experience).
          The other point I want to make is that there is a difference between sad puppies and rabid puppies. Whatever the sad puppy’s agenda is, it is different from the Rabid Puppies publicly stated agenda, which is to “burn down the hugos” and, (no quotes at this time, sorry) at least by implication, to lay waste to fandom, SFWA and certain individuals who Ted Beale has identified as the source of whatever issue he has.
          Further, if you want to discuss invective, name calling and etc., Rabid Puppies are the “guiltiest” of all of the parties involved from my perspective.
          Further, there can’t be a meaningful discussion on these topics unless one of two things happens: sad puppies divorce themselves from rabid puppies or rabid puppies renounce pretty much everything they have said this year and last.
          It is not possible for fandom to embrace a group of individuals who have stated that their goal is to destroy the things that fandom holds dear.
          If those looking for reconciliation want one “side” to renounce and abjure their nasty rhetoric, the other “side” has to be willing to do the same.
          Unfortunately, at least insofar as rabid puppies are concerned, there is no going back. At least not for the remainder of a good part of this century. I say this not necessarily personally, but out of an understanding of what I think fandom can and can not tolerate. The words and views, and in particular, the manner in which they been expressed are unacceptable and I do not think that any amount of retraction or apologizing will be good enough (not to mention that one of the publicly expressed “tactics” of the RP has been “never apologize”.)
          The bias issue can be addressed – IF people on both sides want to accept fact and the good word of other fans. If someone who voted No Award says that they HAVE read the works in the voter packet, we need to do them the courtesy of taking them at their word unless evidence to the contrary comes forward. I’m willing to accept you at your word that you believe there has been bias in the awards, fandom and publishing; you’ll have to accept my word that I believe that what you see as bias is at worst circumstantial and at best non-existent. So where do you see the bias, how is it expressed and what do you think can be done to address that belief?

        • Steve,

          I’d also like to mention that I have just begun to push a new idea, that of asking likely future nominees to publicly state that they will not support slates, campaigning, etc., do not want to be placed on any and will publicly request their removal from such. IF I can get a decent number of potential nominees to make that statement (on their own venue, in their own language), then campaigning will have largely had its teeth drawn. Voters, even myself, would happily vote for someone nominated, even if they appeared on a slate, so long as they had stated before hand that they want nothing to do with it. If a large enough group of potential nominees make this statement, your concerns regarding bias will also have been largely eliminated. Sample language here https://amazingstories.com/no-campaigns-no-slates/
          Now I am going to bed (up early here at Amazing HQ!)

          • Steve,

            Thank you again for your courteous reply, and let me first apologize for using such an emotionally charged term as “Puppy Kickers”. While I (and many others in Sad Puppies) do feel very much like a portion of Fandom has loudly, and vocally objected to our existence in churlish terms, you are quite correct that if I intend to argue the use of less pejoratives, I need to live by my own standards. I’ll try to use the term “anti-Puppy” rather than anything that might be perceived as hostile. I don’t think that’s too offensive, given that all the groups you enumerated above share one thing in common in that they united to oppose any candidates put forward by the Sad Puppies. Some were extremely courteous about the way they did so, others were not. That said, it makes no sense to blame *everyone* for the misconduct and hatefulness of a few, no matter how influential they are or how they are placed in the industry.

            I do blame *everyone* for failing to object to the egregious language used about race, gender, sexuality, and the slurs done to all of Puppyhood as a result. For a community that prides itself on being tolerant and inclusive, there were a lot of long-term members of Fandom spreading vile, false, and baseless gossip about Puppies rather than objecting to the tactics used. That behavior was in stark contrast to your own, which was both reasoned and reasonable.

            I must also say, I can’t discuss anything to do with Rabid Puppies other than to say that no one who identifies as a Sad Puppy has to my knowledge advocated the Rabids’ position, and that the two groups are distinct. I suppose it is possible there are some members who identify as both, if only because asserting the opposite would derail the conversation into unproductive places. What I will say is the mainstream Sad Puppy does not agree with the Rabids, at least not that I’ve read, and that we love the Hugo just as much as anyone else in Fandom. If I use the term “Puppy” you can be assured it is related to the Sad Puppies.

            I’d like also to mention only one thing regarding Theodore Beale. I’ve read just enough of his writing to know it isn’t to my taste. We’ve never met (to my knowledge) and I don’t believe we’ve ever corresponded. I have read of, and read some primary sources concerning his beliefs. All I can say is they are not my own, nor do I recognize them in any of the originators of the Sad Puppies, or any of us who affiliate that way. Whether Beale plays the part he does out of evil, narcissism, or as some kind of character I do not know or care. He does not speak for me, and I do not share his stated views. Beyond this paragraph and the one preceding, I really can’t and won’t comment on either the Rabids or Beale/Vox Day.

            I read your enumeration of the various interests above as acknowledgment that Sads and Rabids are two different groups. Lumping them together and treating them the same has caused a lot of hard feelings in the Sad Puppies community, which could clearly be demonstrated by the reaction to Irene Gallo’s comments this summer. I’d prefer not to rehash that event, or to discuss grammar, etc. when the point I’m making is about the reaction to it. Sad Puppies genuinely get offended at being linked to the Rabids. It’s not our fault they chose the name, stole our (untrademarked and unofficial) logo and bastardized it, etc. As you say, were I to get pissed, it would be over being continually chastised and castigated for the behavior and actions of a group that manifestly does not represent the one I’m a part of. I’m sure you can understand given your earlier assertion that you want to be held accountable for what you say, not what others do. It’s the same principle. I would ask that you refrain from that linkage in the spirit of the dialog we’ve been having.

            Other than that linkage, I don’t think any of us object to “Puppies”…

            Were we and/or our progenitors fuggheads, or did the rest of Fandom fail to keep its values of inclusiveness and tolerance? I think that’s a question a lot of people are really struggling with right now. For me, I’ve decided that as with most things, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle, and it’s irrelevant to how we go forward. If effective bridge-building is to happen, it has to be based upon a foundation of mutual respect and a modicum of courtesy that manifestly has not been present the past 2-3 years. Frankly, having been through professional hazing and conformity-building (boot camp for those who haven’t been) and a career full of learning to adapt to other cultures, being told “Don’t be a fugghead” really is not the worst thing that can happen to me. 🙂 All kidding aside, part of building those bonds of respect is continuing to insist on courtesy, and expanding the pool of the courteous if we can.

            I admire your stance on campaigning. I also see some merits in the E Pluribus Hugo proposal to achieve that end. I’ll definitely look at the link you’ve provided, but the important part for our discussion (I think) is that we are in agreement that slates are generally a bad thing, and result only in losers. People lose awards they may have deserved. The fans lose an opportunity to acknowledge beloved works. The award itself loses its prestige. Everybody loses. While I think the data shows Sad Puppies at least did not nominate or vote in nearly as strong a bloc as anti-puppies maintained, the truth is it doesn’t matter. That was the perception. Eliminate the slates and we eliminate that outcome.

            What I am a fan of, and have been advocating for the past 3 years, is growing Fandom. What attracted me to Sad Puppies to begin with was three things. I am a fan of Larry Correia and found his original Sad Puppies post really funny, and thought provoking. Second (and far more importantly), I looked into the numbers and found myself aghast that such a small voting pool purported to award the best science fiction of any given year. Finally, for the cost of $40, not only could I participate, but I would get access to the entire voters’ packet and most of the works nominated. I later upgraded to a full membership and attended WorldCon and found myself surrounded by a lot of great people, none of whom were particularly difficult to get along with or understand. I saw how many people were in the convention center and thought, surely the voter turnout would be much higher than in prior years. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to make Fandom approximate anything like a significant percentage of the fans. Nor was LonCon, although bigger again, anywhere big enough.

            I think Sad Puppies 4 would best serve as a recruiting drive, not an engine for nominating a specific slate. More members is a good thing. Moreover, more members who are not North American, white, or between 40-60 would be a good thing. More translated works being recognized would be a good thing. So I’m hopeful that’s the direction we’ll go. If we repeat this year’s mistake of presenting suggestions that look like a slate, I think we’ve screwed the pooch…pun completely intended.

            At any rate, I’m very grateful for the time and attention, and hope you will continue working to build more respectful and courteous dialog. I’ll do my part too, even if the group marked “Barish” is much smaller and less influential than the others on your list of interested parties above, even that Davidson group.

          • ???We’re done? That’s all that needs to be said?
            What about this from the leader of SPIV, Kate Paulk?
            http://madgeniusclub.com/2015/08/27/yet-another-post-hugo-post/

            No, I don’t think we’re done by a long shot. Your Sad Puppies, even if we grant the divorce from the rabids, are not following the line you’ve suggested, they’re going further and further into cloud cuckoo land.
            I’ve seen several attempts at reconciliation on the fannish side. Time for your side to give a little too.

  7. I appreciate what you are saying, and I thank you for the post and offer. I’m a marginal Puppy.

    A recommendation list, you say. would be fine. You mean like SP3?

    https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/sad-puppies-3-the-2015-hugo-slate/

    “As noted earlier in the year, the SAD PUPPIES 3 list is a recommendation. Not an absolute.”

    SP3 was always offered as a list of recommendations. And anyone could have offered up suggestions to Brad before nailing them down into a slate of recommendations. I did not nominate anything.

    As for SP4, even GRRM has asked if he could nominate. I pointed him to Kate Paulk and pointed out that he could have offered suggestions for SP3.

  8. Burn it all down. We’re done with you.

    Jim Butcher was voted below no award. Burn it all down.

    Toni Weisskopf was voted below no award. Burn it all down.

    Irene Gallo called the works bad-to-reprehensible. Burn it all down.

    It was called the Year of the Asterisk. Burn it all down.

    Patrick Hayden yelled and cursed at L. Jagi Lamplighter. Burn it all down.

    The list goes on. They’ve called us racists without knowing us. They’ve called us misogynists without listening to us. They call us trolls when we disagree, and they somehow think banning us makes them stronger. They’ve called us jackasses, and they’ve called us dipshits, and most of us are standing here because we once tried to talk.

    But then we learned.

    They are the racist ones. They are the sexist ones. Anyone with clarity can see this. They attack the white, they condemn the male. They applaud their own sly brand of racism, but a racism that is socially acceptable is still not okay. To hell with them, and burn it down.

    They speak of privilege. The only privilege that has been at play in the community is the #DiversityPrivilege. The privilege of the liberal, of the liars and the hypocrites and the would-be controllers of expression. So burn it all down.

    The faceless rabid don’t make deals. I’m happy to spend good money the rest of my life. Money on fire to burn it all down.

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