The Moratorium Ends

I had an entirely different post scheduled for this subject today.  It was designed to achieve two purposes:

First, to explain that the Sad Puppies individually and, seemingly, collectively, have roundly rejected most any and all concepts of a possible reconciliation with the fans who have voiced the negative opinion that the puppy’s attempts to manipulate the Hugo Awards  are traditionally and socially unacceptable.  The one concept that they have provisionally accepted is that of an unconditional surrender on the part of the SJW Cabal opposing them, after which they’ll, maybe, consider the Cabal’s suggestions that they unconditionally surrender, and

Second, to draw a large amount of traffic to the website as seems to happen every single time I mention the puppies here.  (And I didn’t even have to go out and recruit my own minions.) This would be nothing but snarky fodder if it weren’t so true.  Try it yourselves.  Put your rain suit on and then post something (accurately) critical of puppies, sit back and watch the spittle fly.

HOWEVER.  I decided that the better course of action was to simply state that both the posts and comments on numerous known puppy-leaning websites would strongly suggest to even the most casual observer that the puppies have no intention of doing anything remotely resembling an attempt to put the past behind us and move on.

Their SPIV “Recommendation” list remains a thinly disguised slate and will not be changed in any way.  (Some authors are already acting preemptively and repudiating any inclusion of their works on slates.)

They also have no intention of making their relationship to Rabid Puppies any clearer than it already is.  Which is to say, floating around in a muddy puddle of deliberate uncertainty.

We are most likely in the final year of the Hugo Awards being vulnerable to overt manipulation for any purpose.  Should measures passed last year be ratified this year, Finland in 2017 will enjoy a convention largely free of effective puppy shenanigans.

In moving forward, I believe it is important that the message sent last year be reinforced this year. We’ve already seen at least one author declaring that campaigning begging for votes is no longer a problem.  If we do not want that mindset to take hold, we will continue to repudiate slate voting this year.

Fans who discover a loophole in the voting rules don’t seek personal advantage – they bring it to the attention of other fans and make proposals at the business meeting and generally use their new found knowledge for the benefit of the whole.  (Or, if unhappy with the process, they go off and do their own thing, which is then rewarded or ignored based on the merit of the accomplishment, not a tally of internet one upsmanship points.)  Hugo voting actions this year should send that message.  Therefore –

I will be nominating and voting for the Hugo Awards this year in the same way I voted last year:  I’ll read and watch and listen to everything I can on the final ballot, will vote my conscience and will make sure that any work that appears on a slate (a voting list with a political agenda behind it) will be below No Award and off the ballot.

Unfortunately this year there may very well be far too many good excuses (good works placed on slates, the author/creator failing to repudiate) to sustain the groundswell that we saw last year.  I hope that’s not the case, but one must be realistic. If that scenario comes to pass, it will be difficult to put these past few years behind us.  The ethical questions will not be resolved one way or the other (it is/is not ok to screw with the awards:  doing so will/will not be rewarded). The puppies will have gotten enough support to sustain them, and eventually we’ll be dealing with some other loophole that’s being taken advantage of.


invisible fanNow for a little story of conventions past in response to one of the regular puppy tactics.  Whenever the puppies want to “discuss” issues with their detractors, rather than address them by name, they make up cute little pet names for them.  The objective is obvious:  dehumanize your opponent.  Once you see yourself referred to by one of these pet names in more than one puppy’s blogs, you know that the group think has kicked in and you’ve made it to the top tier.  John C. Wright has chosen to label me as someone no one ever heard of (he was born with a propeller beanie on his head and has spent a lifetime as a fan and somehow managed to avoid hearing about me – despite two emails to me and direct mention of me by him in earlier posts, a fact brought up in comments on his site and carefully ignored).  This was echoed on a couple of other puppy sites, modified with implications of self-importance.  So it’s pretty clear now that I’ve been labelled as the invisible fan.

Mr. Wright and his fellow puppies will have to reach a little farther if they want to go for originality.

Back in the 1970s, a well-known fan named Avedon Carol published a well-received fanzine titled The Invisible Fan.  In the first issue of TIF, Avedon published faux LOCs (letters of comment), because all traditional fanzines have LOCs and she wanted the ‘zine to appear as if it had been in publication for a while.  One of those fake letters was from a fictional fan named Steve Davidson.  Avedon later told me that she made the name up from the commonest names among male fen.  I showed up at a Disclave where Avedon was distributing TIF and was promptly pounced upon and introduced all around – the imaginary fan made real flesh.  I subsequently wrote several LOCs for TIF, the theme of which was continuously attempting to prove my existence, which Avedon playfully dismissed.

ad840c4700272680137686b96ef04123I’ve enjoyed that status as the Invisible Fan for decades.  It sets me apart from all the other Steve Davidsons out there.

I guess some puppies have a little more appreciation for fan history than I’ve given them credit for.

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  1. I will read whatever’s nominated. If something seems particularly weak I will stop reading pretty damned quickly. I read most of what was nominated this year. Next year I’m going to stop for breath at about the 10% mark and think about whether I can be bothered to continue.
    If JCW wants to avoid being beaten by No Award then he needs to write something that deserves the award. Those gamed onto the ballot this year would have tarnished the credibility of the award had they won.

  2. “First, to explain that the Sad Puppies individually and, seemingly, collectively, have roundly rejected most any and all concepts of a possible reconciliation with the fans…”

    You spent paragraph after paragraph attacking them and refusing to admit even the slightest excess on your side, and _then_ you started talking about reconciliation. What did you think was going to happen?

    You guys are so filled with hate you can’t keep it in your pants for even one blog post. You can’t even politely lie and _pretend_ to let bygones be bygones.

  3. Instead of trying to suppress slates, and punishing books that appear on them, why not encourage them instead? A slate from every zine, dozens of slates, slates for every colour of the rainbow. Then any nefarious effect of a particular slate would be counterbalanced and neutralized, like sour by bitter acid by base; free discussion of current works would be promoted through all of fandom; and overall excellence like cream would naturally rise to the top.

  4. I’ve met you in person Steve so I know you exist even though you have no memory of our meeting. Someday we’ll be at a con together and I’ll introduce myself. 😉

  5. On a more conciliatory note, let me ask you a serious question:

    Kate the Impaler is running Sad Puppies 4. She has already started some sort of website or list. I have not looked at it yet. (I thought it was too early in the year). I have discovered to my surprise that my latest novel SOMEWHITHER has already been suggested as a possible nominee.

    Now, this was done without my knowledge or urging. I am frankly pleased and surprised anyone read that book, which did not come out from a major publisher like Tor. It is somewhat eccentric and experimental: I did not expect it to have a broad appeal.

    Step into my shoes for a moment. Pretend you are in my position.

    According to what you have written above, you are honor bound to vote SOMEWHITHER under ‘No Award’ even though I did not canvass for vote for it.

    This is because you wish to punish me for canvassing for vote for it.

    Here is the question:

    What, if anything, can I do so that you would read that story, assuming it wins the nomination, and give it a fair and unbiased judgement? The same judgment as you would give any other story written any other man or woman, white or black, Christian or Jew?

    Think on this carefully: because if the answer is “nothing” then your offer of peace is false.

    If the answer is ‘stop writing science fiction’ or ‘decline any awards’ then, again, your offer of peace is false.

    As I said, I have not visited Kate’s site, have not asked anyone to nominate any works of mine, have not conspired with like minded individuals to promote a slate. Again, I was surprised to find this particular book of mine being discussed as Hugo-worthy.

    So what must I, or anyone, do to get a fair hearing from you? An unbiased judgment?

    And if you cannot answer the question, or dodge it, or answer with a counterattack or an airy dismissal, we will both know why that is, won’t we? In your heart of hearts, you will know.


    1. John,

      I’ll answer your questions. But first:

      Who the hell are you to be giving me classroom instruction? Well, fair enough. I’ll give you some back:

      it would be helpful if, in your pronouncements, you were a bit more inclusive – “…would give any other story written any other man or woman, white or black, Christian or Jew?” ought to have been more expansive and included non-binary gender nods, other “races” nods and the acknowledgment of other religions, both Abrahamic and non. Or, more simply, you might have left that part out entirely. Good editing would have suggested that the sentence should have ended “…any other story written.”

      What could you do to get your story considered?

      Publicly repudiate slates and campaigning. Don’t participate; let your readers know that you don’t endorse slates and have requested that your works not be included on them.

      John, I don’t want to punish you or anyone else. What I, and apparently most other fans who voted for the Hugo Awards last year want, is an end to campaigning for Hugo Awards and an end to organized voting.

      Your presuppositions about how I might answer speak volumes about your own mind set.

      I will first try, once again, to disabuse you of a false assumption: You asked: “What, if anything, can I do so that you would read that story, assuming it wins the nomination, and give it a fair and unbiased judgement?” Last year, I DID read everything in the packet. Including your work. When the final vote came to pass, I only voted for works that were not on slates. I was not able to read and vote for some other works because of the slates. This year, if your story appears on the final ballot and is made available in the packet, I’ll read that too. And I’ll give it a fair, personal judgment based on its merits as a story. THEN I will carefully remove it from consideration because it was on a slate. I shouldn’t have to, but will point out that last year I did exactly what you have requested of me, and will do exactly what you requested of me this year.

      There are two separate actions going on there. One – reading the nominated works. Two – a two phase voting procedure. Phase 1, removing all slated works from consideration. Phase 2, voting for the remaining nominees. These are not mutually exclusive actions, despite how hard you’ve been trying to merge them. Had there been no slates, I might have voted differently. If your work had not appeared on a slate, it WOULD have been voted for on the final ballot. What you are asking for is easy to achieve. Everyone not slate voting is already doing it.

      Now, John (if I may call you John; feel free to call me Steve, or Mr. Invisible, lol…), a cynical observer might suppose that your request is nothing more than a set up. Repudiate the existing Sad Puppies slate and then let Rabid Puppies do their thing (I think you can expect support from them), which may or may not take place publicly. Last year the RP slate was far more effective than the SP slate, so you’d really be sacrificing nothing by complying. You’d still be largely assured of getting your work nominated, after which you’d probably talk about how you complied with my wishes (and also most likely conflate those wishes with those of the imaginary SJW Cabal) and were still being criticized for participating in campaigning. Then you’d leverage that into support for your claims of the existence of the Cabal and we’d be right back where we started, with you and your followers righteously believing that you’d managed to land some egg on the faces of the SJW Cabal, which would be used to gin up even more support for your “cause”.

      But that’s what a cynical observer might say. Me? As an individual fan who is participating in the Hugo Awards? A fan who would like to see the awards get back to what they’ve always been – the collective judgment of the fans attending Worldcon – I’d say your personal best course of action is to disassociate yourself from the puppy stuff, stop campaigning for nominations and awards, stop attacking the people and institutions that participate in the Hugo Awards and wait a few years for things to calm down, while continuing to write and work on your craft. Then, it would be reasonable for you to expect to be treated in the same manner as every other author who produces eligible work during a given year. And that’s how I’d treat your work if it appeared on the final ballot – a story to be judged on its merits beside three or four or five other similar length stories.

      Finally, this: “And if you cannot answer the question, or dodge it, or answer with a counterattack or an airy dismissal, we will both know why that is, won’t we? In your heart of hearts, you will know.” I answered your question and in my opinion did not dodge, counterattack or dismiss. In your heart of hearts, you know I did, regardless of how you choose to interpret it.

      1. Yes, you answered the question, no, you may not call me by my first name, sir, and you lost my respect when you decided to lecture me on inclusion.

        I am pleasantly surprised you answered in what for you is a civil tone. Shocked, actually. I admit that I underestimated your character, and for that I apologize.

        So, your answer is that slate voting is so reprehensible to you that the merit of the story will not be reached.

        Your answer contains the speculation that I will be dishonest and dishonorable in my reply and my actions hereafter. This language is of course not conducive to the outbreak of peace for which all men of goodwill hope, but, again, it is speculation and not an accusaiton, so we can set that to one side.

        Then, as a hypothetical matter, you say that I should wait a few years and disassociate myself from my loyal readers.


        Years, while telling my loyal readers, whom I did not tell to vote for me, not to vote for me.

        Now, that is what I need to get an honest vote from you.

        That presupposes there is no cabal manipulating the Hugo Award vote, and no one who votes not to promote well crafted science fiction,but instead to promote inclusion.

        Oddly, that was the word you yourself used here, now.

        Your answer, in other words, is based on the presupposition that you do not exist, and are not operating against me and my interests.

        I find that hard to believe, but out of civility I will put my skepticism aside. Perhaps you are able to vote honestly without your politics controlling your brain.

        Now, you suggest here what I would have to give up, that is, my chances of winning an award I deserve — basically an unconditional surrender — merely to get a fair and unbiased vote from you.

        But that is something I am owed anyway.

        So I give you everything you want from me and you give me nothing

        A certain highly placed and well connected figure in the field (not Vox Day) has told me privately that there is a cabal, and told me the names. He asked me not to expose him for fear of retaliation, so you and I are at an impasse. I have evidence that convinces me, but which I am not allowed to show to you, so you are unconvinced.

        But suppose for the sake of argument that there is a cabal who, unlike you, would never give someone who is not a member of their circle a fair and evenhanded vote, and who is and shall continue to vote a slate, merely not a public one.

        Suppose for the sake of argument it is so: what is my rational course of action then? To repudiate my fans and loyal readers, repudiate slates, and let the slate voting that the unscrupulous are defending and organizing continue?

        Now you yourself called on your readers both this year and last year to vote in a bloc, that is, as a slate, in order to prevent me from winning the award. You would rather no one have it than that I have it.

        If I make a public announcement to the Sad Puppies repudiating slate voting, will you do the same, and vow on whatever you hold sacred not to vote ‘No Award’?

        What say you to that offer, Mr. Davidson?

        1. “Now you yourself called on your readers both this year and last year to vote in a bloc.”

          No, I did not.

          I told readers what I was going to do and laid out the reasons why I believed it was the correct strategy for countering slate voting.

          1. Done! I accept your offer, I have posted a notice on my blog eschewing slate voting, and you must now perform your part of the deal, and forswear putting my works, should any be nominated, below ‘No Award.’

        2. JCW: “A certain highly placed and well connected figure in the field (not Vox Day) has told me privately that there is a cabal, and told me the names.”

          Is this different to your claim that “Tor had been gaming the system for a decade or more” or is it the same cabal? Perhaps you could be clear on when you were told this, and in what circumstances?

  6. “First, to explain that the Sad Puppies individually and, seemingly, collectively, have roundly rejected most any and all concepts of a possible reconciliation with the fans who have voiced the negative opinion that the puppy’s attempts to manipulate the Hugo Awards are traditionally and socially unacceptable.”

    No, I accepted the idea but said your side would reject it, because you need a scapegoat and an enemy.

    Did you write me any offer of peace or reconciliation?

    What do you have to negotiate with?

    All we want is for your side to stop attacking us. And you cannot. Setting yourself up as the martyr and me as the ruthless evil lord of evil is part and parcel of your psychology.

    Because all you need do if you want peace is to close your mouth and tend to your work. Do your job. Mind your business.

    Your business is not my politics and not my faith.

    I am sorry that I don’t remember you. You are not an editor to whom I have ever sold anything, you are not a writer I have ever read, and your name has not come up in the field erenow at least not in my hearing.

    So your advice does not carry the weight of George RR Martin, whom I read boy and man, whose work I admire, and to whom I have sold a story, one, indeed, which is first on my list fo stories I am most proud of having sold him (although he does not remember me, it seems).

    The difference between us is that I don’t expect him to remember me. Why should he? Stories by Tanith Lee and Neal Gaiman appeared in that same anthology with my humble short story, and also Robert Silverberg. Who am I compared to these giants?

    By the same token, who are you compared to me? What have you done, sir, that I should remember you? What are your contributions to the field?

    1. “By the same token, who are you compared to me? What have you done, sir, that I should remember you? What are your contributions to the field?”

      Who am I compared to you? Well, lets see:

      Between us, I’m the only one who was voted a Top 100 Paintball Player of All Time and I think I’m the only one of us who helped found an entire international sport. I know I’m the only author among us who has written two best selling books on that subject. I also know I’m the only author between us that had a regular monthly column in every single print paintball magazine on the market at one time. I’m also the only 1992 Paintball Person of the Year between us.

      Between us, I think I’m the only person to have an exhibit on display at Epcot that was voted most popular two years in a row; and since you weren’t a member of the SMEC team at AT&T, I know I’m the only one between us that received an IICS award for Best Interactive Training Video of the year. I don’t recall you working for me when I was at AT&T and Bell Labs, so I’m also pretty sure that you didn’t help develop some of the basic multi-media technologies we all take for granted today.

      Hmmm, what else? Well, I’m pretty sure my mother likes me more than she likes you (in fact, I think she still thinks I’m something special). I’ve worked directly on putting two Worldcons together and indirectly on several more. I saved the Amazing Stories name from the fate of being used as a title for travel books. I bodyguarded Harlan Ellison for two hours at Iggiecon and brought him his coffee a couple of mornings. I was a personal friend of Jack Chalker. I’m a member of SFWA and a member of this year’s Worldcon. I started this blog and gave a platform to nearly 200 authors, artists, editors and fans, and have grown it to having more than 25,000 registered members.

      And none of that, nor the fact that you sold a story to George R.R. Martin, means a damn thing when it comes to discussing whether or not it’s ok to slate and campaign for a Hugo Award.

      John, if you and I were standing in the hallway at Worldcon with George RR Martin, Neal Gaiman, Tanith Lee and Robert Silverberg, we’d all have name badges on. All of us would probably have panelist ribbons (if the con was using them that year). Neither Tanith or I would have Hugo Award Finalist pins. Neal and Bob and George would have pins untainted by campaigning and slates. Anyone glancing in our direction would see nothing but six fans standing in the hallway.

      We’d ALL be attending members of Worldcon and presumably, we’d all be fans.

      Your arrogance is palpable. You seem to believe that you are entitled to some special level of respect and deference and that your status as an “author” elevates your opinions and views above mere mortal fans. You don’t seem to get the fact that it’s a level playing field. The Hugo Award committee doesn’t count extra votes for authors. (‘Oh, look, Bob’s ballot. Multiply everything by 100 because he’s been at every single Worldcon, won a bunch of awards and everybody likes him!’)

      Fans are fans. We admire and respect those other fans who do good things for the good things they do, not because they’ve given themselves a title. Anyone looking in will tell you that the admiration and respect is fleeting – you’re only as good as the last good thing you did. Be a mensch. Take your own advice.

      1. I forgot to mention a few other of my life’s highlights and accomplishments:

        I once played hockey against Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach at the Cherry Hill Arena;
        I saved Balticon’s art show from an ashtray fire;
        I was invited (at 13) to a private party with Gene Roddenberry, Majel Barrett, Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig because I was “so cool”;
        I’ve lived in Israel and in England;
        I rescued an errant fruit bat that had gotten into the restaurant at Iggie and returned it to the wild;
        I graduated cum laude from Gratz College (while still in High School) and was then almost immediately fired from my Sunday school teaching gig for including atheism and agnosticism in my class on comparative religions;
        I designed a board game (who’s title may give John pause – Christians and Lions the Irreverent Strategy Game) that was nominated for most humorous board game;
        I worked on the Ringworld RPG and the never-released RPG based on Harry Harrison’s Deathworld stories;
        I’ve served as an expert witness and have presented before zoning boards, city councils and state legislatures; I’ve presented to four star generals commanding TRADOC and Southern Command (all with hair below my collar);
        I developed an armored vehicle recognition training system for the National Guard’s High Technology Training Center and a multi-lingual mapping and information system for Disney;
        I think I’m the only fanzine editor to obtain a grant from his college to publish a fanzine;
        I’ve trained and trained with police and military forces from all over the world;
        I spearheaded a fund-raising effort to obtain a passenger van for my grandmother’s assisted living facility;
        I’ve turned down two (at least) multi-million dollar deals because the ethics weren’t right (nothing illegal. Let’s just say that the WWE was not a good match for presenting a sport in a serious light.)
        I’ve served as a less-than-lethal weapons systems test subject; meaning – I got shot by less-than-lethal weapon systems. Repeatedly. And then asked how, if at all, my functions were impaired;
        I’ve got a patent and have helped others obtain at least 25 more. I developed a ‘super-secret’ method for applying for a trademark that helps avoid most office actions;
        Most importantly, I asked Karen to marry me and she said “yes”. Not to mention buying cool presents for my grandson and promising to corrupt him in the best possible ways when he says “but mom and dad won’t let me…”

        And all it means is that I’ve done some interesting things, visited some interesting places and met some interesting people. It doesn’t mean that my voice is any more important or authoritative than anyone else’s.

      2. I was not asking you to recite your c.v. to me.I am sure you have accomplished many wonderful things in other fields, and that all Epcot visitors recall your display with fondness, and that all fans of paintball acknowledge their debt of gratitude.

        I was asking you to produce your credentials as the expert in the field you present yourself as being, a mover and shaker so big you casually expect anyone in the SF field to know your name and reputation.

        I would accept such an expectation from David Brin, George RR Martin, or Gardner Dozois, or even Warren Lapine. These are significant names in the science fiction field: but they are indeed old hands, and know the ropes. If they gave me advice, I’d listen, and even where I disagreed, I would listen with respect.

        I honestly had not expected you to expect me to know your name. It is uncomely of you to display the extend of your wounded vainglory on this point. I don’t expect you to know my name, why should you? Before Sad Puppies, had you ever heard of me? I assume you had not.

        “You seem to believe that you are entitled to some special level of respect and deference and that your status as an “author” elevates your opinions and views above mere mortal fans.”:


        Oh, wait. You meant that seriously ….?

        No, sir. Quite the opposite. I am always shocked when someone recognizes my name. You are out of your cotton-picking ever-loving mind.

        Sorry, I have to wipe a tear of mirth from my eye.

        ‘Special level of respect’ Heh heh heh. Wow. Good one.

        I mentioned by sale to Martin not to show that I was big, but to show that HE was. He did not remember me, nor did I expect him to. I sat next to Gene Wolfe once at a book signing, and went to mass with him. He did not remember me, nor would expect him to.

        I am arrogant. There you have me. But not for my writing my space opera stories. Good grief.

        Men like Wolfe and Martin are giants. I am not. I am an obscure midlist writer.

        But I have more credentials than you when it comes to the writing field.

        You don’t have the necessary credentials to lecture me.

          1. You were not commenting on my writings, my dear sir, but on my politics, my conduct as a professional in the science fiction field and fandom.

            It weakens your position when you fib about a matter anyone reading your words above can see for himself.

            So, if that is your answer, you are man of no accomplishments in the field. You are still a nobody when it comes to science fiction.

            If it of any comfort, your words have more authority and weight than Mr. Damian Walter of the Guardian, who has not published anything, and merely takes the king’s shilling to work on a novel he cannot finish.

          2. John, stop with the false civility BS and stop with the vain attempt at scoring points. I was referring to any and everything you might write as is patently clear. No one needs credentials to comment. And no one needs your approval.

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