The day before yesterday, George R.R. Martin offered conciliation to the puppies.
Puppies rejected it.
Elsewhere, many fans who bothered to comment remarked on GRRM’s good will, class and obvious heart-in-the-right-place spirit.
Unfortunately, this exercise is nothing more than more of the same even if it is dressed up with a bit of hopeful holiday cheer.
I don’t really like to criticize (or even disagree) with Mr. Martin (he was adamantly opposed to my No Award strategy last year and that was no fun). Not only do I run the risk of pissing off his legions of fans, but I also run the risk of giving puppies fodder for their wood chipper; ‘oh look, the SJWs are fighting amongst themselves; take heart, puppies, we’re winning’ and that’s most definitely not fun.
But when it comes to the Hugo Awards, Worldcon and Fandom, I’ve got feelings.
Those feelings tell me that Mr. Martin’s good will is misplaced. I can say this with a fair degree of confidence because they’ve already been rejected by the people who were the intended recipients. GRRM wasn’t talking to anyone other than puppies. It is a given that Fans already share his sentiments. We would all be more than happy to put this sad affair behind us and move on to find something less visceral to argue about among ourselves, like whether Star Trek or Star Wars is the greatest SF property of all time (apologies to Firefly, Stargate, Babylon 5, Battlestar and fans of other epics, and a side nod to those Trekkies who will always ask “TOS or Nextgen?”).
Unfortunately, I don’t think that Mr. Martin understands how this whole thing works. Puppies RELY on fan’s desire to get along, to reconcile, to let bygones be bygones or to agree to drop a subject that is too toxic for fannish conversation in order to help spread their own toxicity. They view attempts to reconcile as WEAKNESS – because, as I have said before, they DO NOT UNDERSTAND FANDOM (or in some cases vehemently reject what they think they understand about it).
GRRM is obviously hoping that his words will touch some wellspring of fannishness inside the puppies, that they’ll finally come to understand that their past actions were not in keeping with the finest traditions of fandom and that now that the error of their ways has been amply demonstrated (No Award sweep of puppy categories and Wooden Asterisks, not to mention stifled applause and hundreds of thousands of words on the net) they’ll change their ways if only someone offered them a path to redemption.
Reconciliation is a fine and time-honored fannish tradition. (Even if a new feud starts up within five minutes of the handshake.) What GRRM misses is – the puppies do not want to reconcile and they are not seeking redemption. They are looking to WIN. What GRRM’s post offered was the equivalent of assuming that you are safe in the tiger’s lair because the tiger just ate your friend and is no longer hungry.
One set of puppies wants to win in order to be able to say to the rest of us that we have been wrong and they have been right all along. Not about the awards themselves, but about fandom’s moves towards diversity and putting action behind its historical commitment to openness and acceptance.
The other set of puppies wants to see nothing less than the destruction of the entirety of the science fiction community.
Fans – of which GRRM is a shining example – will always try to reconcile. It’s a fundamental component of their nature. Without it they wouldn’t be fans. It is not weakness, but is instead a very fannish thing. At this point, the fact that puppies do not seem to share this fundamental aspect of fannish nature need not be pointed out (even though I just did point it out).
Despite holiday wishes, nothing has changed. We have one more year before we can put this puppy-foolishness behind us (at least in regards to the Hugo Awards).
Trufans – like GRRM – will continue to seek ways to find common ground with puppies. Puppies, not sharing these sentiments, will continue to reject them, belittle them and weaponize them. GRRM will rightfully claim the honor of having tried (for which he should be thanked). And then we’ll all march on to the inevitable final confrontation at Big Mac 2, where I hope that those who were not fooled last year will continue to do the right thing by roundly rejecting slates, slates that are not slates, curated voting lists that are slates in all but name and every other slimy, underhanded, vile and disgusting manipulation of the vote that is attempted. (Hint to George: lay in some more hood ornaments, there may very well be a need for Besties 2.)
You can read George’s missive here. You can read reactions to it here at #10, in the comments and here also at #10 and in the comments. For extra credit, you can take a gander at this roundup of puppythink previously published here just two weeks ago. Potential nominees – please do not put voters in a quandry this year. Recuse yourself from puppy lists so that we can all have an honest, straight-forward vote, unencumbered by puppy idiocy. “Once more unto the breech dear friends, once more”. And then we can put this sad affair to rest.