If you’ve ever seen the movie Office Space, you may remember the restaurant Jennifer Aniston’s character worked at. The manager constantly harped on her for not wearing enough “flair”, or little useless pins attached to her uniform, saying the restaurant was about fun. It reminded me right away of every chain restaurant I’ve ever been to. You would go to Applebee’s, for example, and see random fake or reproduction Americana plastered on the walls, and I suppose it was there to make you feel… something.
I don’t know. It all comes off as fake to me. Similarly there is a new restaurant down the street called Ford’s Garage. The theme is automotive, of course, with old model T cars outside, random pieces of automotive history stuck to the walls, and a tire around the sink in the bathroom. Everything is perfectly clean and thought out, in typical chain restaurant fashion. The local Mustang Club, of which I have been a member for some time, discussed moving their meetups to Ford’s Garage, because that theme tied in well with the Mustangs.
That never happened. And the reason it never happened is instructive. For many years, the Mustang meetups were held at a dive bar and burger joint called the Biff Burger. It was mainly a hangout for bikers and gearheads of various stripes, and over the years car shows and meetups just kind of naturally happened there. Unlike Ford’s Garage, the place lacks the usual chain restaurant modern cleanliness, the politically correct wall art, and the carefully focus group tested menus.
No. When you go there, there are pictures of mostly naked pinup girls on the wall, a retinue of leather-clad bikers at the bar bullshitting about various topics, and a slew of muscle cars and gearheads drinking out in the parking lot. The beer is cheap, the food greasy, but good. Somebody decided to drop the body of a rusted out 57 Chevy on top of the building for God only knows what reason. Biff Burger doesn’t have to try to be a gearhead hangout. It is a gearhead hangout. There’s a certain level of authenticity the chain restaurants just never figured out.
And so the petition to move the meetup to Ford’s Garage stalled, and on the first Monday of every month, there we are at the Biff Burger, bullshitting about car parts and drag races. SJWs would be horrified at the girls in low cut tops, swaying their hips for the benefit of bikers talking about getting laid, the muscle cars belching greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, and the loudness of the whole affair. The Biff Burger would be triggering to every one of them.
I started to notice one day that this sort of thing plays out across America, across a variety of groups, ideas, and locales. We’ve all seen it. Gamers know it well enough from the whole GamerGate affair. Hardcore gamers, playing everything from Call of Duty to Starcraft II, had little patience for so-called grrrlpower “gamers” who played Candy Crush, or people like Anita Sarkeesian, who found misogyny and woman-hatred in the outfits of fighting game characters. This held true even for those hardcore gamers who were women.
Anita Sarkeesian and her ilk, of course, wanted to do to games what Ford’s Garage did to gearhead hangouts: sanitize it. Oh sure, the packaging of gaming would remain. The metaphorical wall art would be plastered on the walls. It would look kind of like a game. But the essence of the thing would be stripped out by the same process that sanitized it. An SJW “game” would no longer be a game in any real sense. Jonathan McIntosh famously said that games shouldn’t be “fun” anymore.
Just as gearheads want to hang out at the Biff Burger, so would gamers want their prodigious violence, the things that blow up, the female characters in tight shorts, the men with comical, cartoonish muscles. It’s no different than the bikers revving their Harleys on the way out of the biker bar.
The same holds true for the realm of Science Fiction, where Sad Puppies want to write novels about slaying monsters, or blowing up spaceships, or crazy women attracting the attention of genetically engineered political anarchists (Sarah, I’m looking at you). The attempt to sanitize Science Fiction with a ruthless focus on Leftist politics and Social Justice strips away the essence of Science Fiction. An SJW author would use these things as decorations for a political message.
It’s no longer Science Fiction. It’s focus group tested Social Justice with some Sci-Fi themed wall art. Leftist Science Fiction is, in essence, the Applebee’s of Sci-Fi. It is utterly sanitized, cleansed of any meaning whatsoever, carefully branded, and served in precisely measured fashion.
Everywhere I go, I see Leftists doing this. They will strip away the meat of a thing, and replace it with Social Justice, decorated with the bleached bones of whatever the thing used to be. A Mustang club in a Leftist world would be about addressing the inequalities of race, gender, and sexual orientation first, and gearhead activities second. You probably wouldn’t even need to own a Mustang to be a member. Certainly, you don’t have to be a gamer to be a Social Justice gaming advocate (remember, gamers are dead, right?).
And so one day it occurred to me, plain as day: SJWs are Posers.
That’s right. Just like the guy who comes into the Mustang club claiming his hunk of junk is the fastest thing in the world because he a put a JMS PedalMax in it, you see these people who have absolutely no clue what it means to be anything at all. They are tourists. They come in and culturally appropriate the wall art (how’s that, SJWs? That’s your term, not mine). They are not gamers, or gearheads, or Sci-Fi fans. But they like the decorations these things have, and they have a grudge against people who are having a good time without them, and so feel a need to insert themselves into our business.
And since they are not us, and don’t really understand us, they try to modify the scene to their own tastes. This means removing the essence from it, killing it, stripping away what made it great, and stuffing the whole thing with Social Justice like some kind of twisted intellectual Marxist taxidermist. And then they have the utter gall to take their fake, stuffed monstrosity, wearing the skin of whatever it once was, and say to us “we are the real gamers, the real gearheads, the real Sci-Fi fans.”
No, SJWs, you’re the guy with a beat up old V6 Mustang, with a fart cannon strapped to the back, who thinks he’s the biggest, baddest thing on the block. You’re the Candy Crush player who says “I’m a gamer too!” You’re the Sci-Fi author who spends all of his time screaming about Vox Day and declaring his love for pies on Twitter, who then comes up with the most lame title for a book I’ve ever heard in my life: The Collapsing Empire.
And not only do you demand a participation trophy for your “contribution,” you want to lead the group. You want to determine its future, because you have some sense of moral indignation that you weren’t automatically handed the keys to the kingdom because you were a genderqueer woman of color, or some such.
SJWs are, in my opinion, part of a wider trend in which people want to feel that they belong to something, but are unwilling to pay the price of admission, and in many cases, don’t even like the thing they want to belong to. Does Anita Sarkeesian really like gaming? Why would she spend all of her time heaping hatred upon gaming if she did like it?
So yes, SJWs are posers. They are Marxist chameleons pretending to be a gearhead, a gamer, a Sci-Fi fan, or a thousand other such things. I guess some people figure that they can use the posers to bolster their membership numbers, but it never works. The posers wanted the chain restaurant, us gearheads are happy with the pizza burgers (yes, this is a thing), cheap beer, and the scantily clad pinup girls of the Biff Burger.
You fuck with our fun at your own risk. We are WrongFans having WrongFun. Keep out.
Unrelated side note: there is an ongoing debate whether it should be properly rendered “poser” or “poseur”. I’ve no particular opinion, since both appear to be valid in the dictionary. But this is apparently something of a grammar tripwire, so by all means, post your opinions in the comments.
Ever since the Great Schism in Science Fiction, as important and divisive in that community as the separation of the Catholic and Orthodox churches in 1054, I’ve watched with incredulity as the Leftist Puppy Kickers have bandied about the most gross of accusations against the Sad Puppies. Tad Williams compares Right-wingers to Nazis. GRRM spews his special brand of stupidity. Chuck Wendig decides that people didn’t like his book because they are homophobes, not because his writing stunk to high heaven. Steve Davidson makes sure to declare his superior intelligence to those dumb Conservatives with their “stupid ideas.”
And then you find comments on File770 automatically dismissing anything said by a Sad Puppy, because anyone who supports the Puppies is probably a GamerGater. As if that has anything to do with whether or not the charges laid by the Sad Puppies are true. Puppy Kickers love the concept of guilt by association. Whatever.
But today’s delicious dose of irony and inspiration for a good fisking comes to us from an article written at The Establishment, telling us that authors who come from “marginalized” backgrounds are often better Science Fiction writers. I’m presuming they mean in relation to those evil oppressors, straight white Christian males.
Why Cutting-Edge Sci-Fi Is Often Penned By Marginalized Writers
Already the title tells us a great deal of the conclusion the author wants us to make. Marginalized writers, that is to say Progressive-sanctioned “victim” groups (i.e. anyone who is not a straight white man), are superior to those stodgy old white guys who oppress and marginalize the others, probably because they are secretly envious of the superior talents of “people of color” and women.
Science fiction is about the gadgets. To be on the cutting edge of science fiction, therefore, you need to know your doohickeys from your gizmos, and be able to determine which will catapult you out past Uranus. Space flight, nanotechnology, virtual reality, and all the things you can do with AI—the serious science-fiction writer has all of those terms on Google alert, so as to know exactly what the future will look like five minutes from right . . . now.
One paragraph in, and we have already made acquaintance with a steaming pile of horseshit. Francis Porretto over at Liberty’s Torch, once explained to me, when helping me with some of my early fiction work, that stories are about people, and how the essence of the story is change. Insofar as gadgetry and doodads set the stage and the setting of good Science Fiction, they are still incidental to the characters. It is the journey of the characters that interests the reader and captivates an audience.
A simple analogy is possible. Imagine Star Wars without its focus on Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, and with a long-winded exposition about the technical details of Death Star design and construction. Would anybody want to watch that garbage?
“Great science fiction explores the philosophical possibilities of science’s impact on reality,” sci-fi writer James Wallace Harris declares at SF Signal. You take real science, you add brilliant philosophy, and you’ve got sci-fi. Right?
Actually, no. Harris’ article has been widely pilloried on social media because, in his tour of “cutting-edge science fiction,” he managed to make a list without citing a single piece of work by a woman or person of color. But what’s been less discussed is that his omissions are tied closely to the fact that his definition of cutting-edge science fiction is ludicrously limited.
At first, I thought there was some hope here for Noah Berlatsky, but instead of focusing on the story and the characters, he focuses on whether or not Harris inserted a sufficient number of citations from favored Leftist victim groups. It’s almost like there is a checklist someplace that you benchmark an article against. If there is, for instance, an insufficient number of obese genderqueer black lesbian lionkins, then demerits are handed out for perceived racism-sexism-homophobia-otherkinphobia. Only nobody seems to know what the required percentages are.
Compare to Chuck Wendig, who was angry at the original Star Wars trilogy for having an insufficient number of black characters, even though the black cast percentage was a near-perfect match for the demographics of America at the time of filming. Of course, the NBA receives a diversity award for being mostly black. So as long as you check the required percentages for “marginalized” people, you don’t have to worry about those pesky white folks.
For Harris, good science fiction focuses on real, possible science, extrapolated. “The trouble is the fans often prefer the beliefs they were raised with, and not those belonging to the cutting edge,” he huffs plaintively, bemoaning the fact that sci-fi fans still like time travel and space opera. If only fans, not to mention literary critics, were out there on the cutting edge, they’d know that H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine is no longer relevant. It’s just science fantasy; pfft. Progress has overtaken it; consign it (via time machine) to the dustbin of history.
Here’s another moment where I had some hope for our intrepid Progressive. But don’t worry, he’s about to sink his own ship shortly. Nonetheless, this is a good time to point out that one of Science Fiction’s appeals, as opposed to other types of fiction, is that it challenges the reader to consider concepts and ideas they might not otherwise imagine. One of the great appeals of Time Machine is that, at the time, it was an eye-opener for readers. Here was a world-breaking technology, and a character who had to deal with the implications of using it. You connected with the protagonist and wondered how you might use such a machine, if you had it. And then you watched how someone else dealt with it, the mistakes and victories he had.
But remember, this is also relative to the world it was set in. Cutting edge technology is not necessary, because for today’s readers, you can wonder how a Victorian-age character would deal with the implications of time travel, how he would see it. So long as your characters are interesting, and your story engaging, it can essentially live forever, even if technology has long moved ahead of it.
Similarly, old science fiction isn’t superseded just because we now know about relativity. Cutting edge in science fiction shouldn’t mean: “I’ve included the latest, hippest equation.” It should include science fiction that is beautiful, startling, or challenging in form or content. Sci-fi writers are creating literature, not blueprints. Cutting-edge sci-fi isn’t sci-fi that uses the latest gadget. It’s sci-fi that dares you to think differently.
So far so good. But I have a bad feeling surrounding what this man means when he says “think differently.” Is it like Apple, with their slogan “think different” when you are all buying products that are exactly the same, so that you can look exactly the same as everyone else?
What Progressives generally mean when they say “think different.” Think exactly the same as everyone else.
And since cutting-edge sci-fi demands you look at the world from a new perspective, it’s no wonder that much of it has been written by folks whose relationship to the mainstream is difficult and marginal. That is, by women and people of color. Science fiction as we know it, in fact, arguably begins with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Victor’s experiments aren’t based on the best technological knowledge of our time, or even of Shelley’s, but that doesn’t mean the book is backwards or irrelevant. On the contrary, it remains what it’s always been: a parable about a man who is obsessed with, and even enraged by, his inability to control reproduction. Victor wants to create life, like women do, and in his attempts to control the process of birth, he destroys both his wife and his outsized, monstrous child. Power, reproduction, love, hate, control, gendered panic; Shelley’s skeptical nightmare about male ambition still resonates with the latest headlines some 200 years later.
Oh boy. Well, there are two separate and distinct fallacies here, so let’s address them in order. First, Noah tells us that Science Fiction is often written by folks whose relationship to the mainstream is difficult. There is some truth to this. I converse regularly with a number of Sad Puppy and Rabid Puppy authors, some of whom I regard as personal friends. If there is anything they all have in common (for they are not a monolithic group of people — Progressive accusations non-withstanding), it is that they are not what you would think of as mainstream people. Mainly, this is a function of high intelligence and strong personalities. Creativity is a paramount value for them. So they are not the sort of folks who live what you would call “normal” lives. Some are geeks or nerds not far off from the stereotype of such. Others are artists, military men, dreamers, and in the case of Sarah Hoyt, just plain weird sometimes (it’s a big part of her appeal, mind you). I mean, anyone who thinks I’m mainstream is a lunatic.
But they aren’t “normies.”
However, Noah describes the non-mainstream as women and people of color. He tells us that authors are not their personalities, not their life-experiences, their knowledge and their unique creative ideas. No. They are merely a set of genitals and a skin color. To him that is what makes a person non-mainstream. If you took the most boring white guy in the world, the parody of idiotic, balding, middle aged white men on TV, and gave them a magic potion that turned their skin black, they would suddenly become special oppressed snowflakes by virtue of their skin color alone. Noah would celebrate them instead of denigrating them, because it’s not about substance, it’s not about the product, it’s not even about the person. Rather, it is about where that person falls on the Progressive Stack, a very specific political ideology.
Forget the uniqueness they bring (or don’t bring) to the world.
Then this guy decides to spin Frankenstein as some sort of parable on women’s reproductive rights, and how jealous the protagonist is that he doesn’t have a set of female genitals, so that he might create life (never mind that men are a required component in creating life anyway). He’s “attempting to control the process of birth” according to Noah. You get the idea from him that Mary Shelley was writing about Republicans who are opposed to Planned Parenthood, not a man obsessed with conquering death, with pushing technology beyond his capacity to handle it, and the moral implications thereof.
Maybe the time traveler sent his machine to Mary Shelley so that she could come forward to 2016 and denounce Republicans in her book.
In the Frankenstein tradition, the two most ambitious and acclaimed living sci-fi writers are probably Ursula K. Le Guin and Samuel Delany. Both Le Guin and Delany are explicitly feminist writers, who have used science fiction not to play with the latest gadgets, but to critique, and undermine, preconceptions about gender, self, sex, and governance.
Huxley touched upon a lot of these topics a long time ago. But Progressives don’t like to talk about that, because it paints them in a somewhat unfavorable light. I have not read anything written by Samuel Delany, and so I will pass on him. But I find Le Guin to be patronizing, boring, and a very poor storyteller overall. If I needed a lecture on proper feminist belief systems, I would attend the Orwellian events put together by Anita Sarkeesian. Listen and Belieeeeeve!
I wonder if Noah read Orwell or Huxley?
Anyway, if you want to talk about gender and sexuality in Science Fiction, allow me to recommend both Sarah Hoyt’s Darkship books, and David Weber’s Safehold series. Or, if you want to go back a ways, read pretty much anything by Heinlein. All three deal believably with these matters without the preachy, lecturing aspect (well, Weber still sometimes infodumps, but he’s gotten better over the years). Again, I don’t want to read a technical manual on genital politics, I want to read about characters.
Delany’s 1975 novel Triton, for example, can be read as a prescient and devastating critique of Harris’ all-men, all-tech science fiction. Bron, the protagonist of the tale, is a typical strapping sci-fi male hero—he is big, blonde, swaggering, and works in an (ahem) cutting-edge complex technical field.
But Triton is a libertarian, egalitarian society with little formal hierarchy, and as a result, all those cutting-edge qualities that would make Bron a hero in another novel do him no good. He’s nothing special, and his self-centered certainty that he should be special ends up alienating him from workmates, friends, romantic partners, and certainly from the reader. In an effort to reconcile himself to Triton, Bron undergoes a sex change operation: a wry commentary by Delany on exactly how “cutting edge” white male sci-fi is. The future belongs to different folks, Delany insists. Find other protagonists, or end up as an anachronism.
Again, I didn’t read this particular book, so I will pass on commenting on it. But something that already strikes me as odd is how Noah tells us to find other protagonists. No more white male heroes, please (can they be villains, I wonder?).
Over the last few years, there’s been a vocal campaign by some science-fiction fans to push against the nomination of progressive works at sci-fi’s prestigious Hugo Awards. An awards voting block dubbed the Sad Puppies called for honors to go to “unabashed pulp action that isn’t heavy handed message fic,” in the words of sci-fi writer and Sad Puppy Larry Correia. For the Sad Puppies, “message fic” is an illegitimate innovation. They live in an odd, alternate universe in which Mary Shelley, Samuel Delany, Ursula Le Guin, and Octavia Butler never lived or wrote. Having ignored the past, they have no access to the future, or even to the present. Like Bron, they wander around being helplessly unpleasant, trapped in a community that long ago passed them by.
Noah’s mistake here is to project his own failings upon us. He claims that we see message fiction as illegitimate and campaign against it, but that’s not accurate. We see it as superfluous and boring, like reading the Chilton’s manual for a sex change operation. Vagina goes here, you may dispense with the penis in the properly-marked RadFem biohazard rape-bucket. Give the ratchet a quarter turn, tighten up the pink dress, until it clicks into place and the voice changes to the feminine. Be sure to paint your character something other than white before test-driving.
It isn’t that is illegitimate or that we care if you write this or not. It’s that you, Noah, are telling us not to write the stories we want to read. If you want to read Progressive message fiction, that is your prerogative. If you want to vote for it in Sci-Fi’s not-very-prestigious and ultimately farcical Hugo Awards (can we just call them the Torlock Awards for political GoodThink?), that is your business, also. What irritates us is that you are sitting here telling us that our stories are illegitimate. They are “unpleasant” and the community “long ago passed them by.” Larry Correia writes pulpy action. That’s fine. Some people like that, a lot, in fact, if his sales numbers are indicative of anything. Others, like John C. Wright, write very cerebral, philosophical books that really challenge the mind. I loved City Beyond Time: Tales of the Fall of Metachronopolis.
And seriously, Noah, stop trying to appropriate Mary Shelley into this. Your attempt to play historical revisionism with her work is despicable. I don’t know of even one Sad Puppy who has ever had anything unkind to say about Frankenstein, and many of us reference it in our work.
Harris isn’t a fan of pulp—but he’s similarly disconnected from the tradition of feminist and progressive science fiction. As a result, his canon (heavy on the Heinlein) doesn’t look so different from the Sad Puppies’, and his cutting-edge proscriptions for sci-fi look unconsciously retrograde.
See, this is where I have to throw my hands up in the air and wonder what planet Noah lives on, because it’s clearly not the same ball of dirt I grew up on. Heinlein explored the ragged edge of cultural acceptability with regards to sex and gender, and did so in an entertaining sort of way. Your beef with him cannot be that he was some kind of closet sexist or homophobe. He did exactly as you demanded. Your beef is entirely political. He wasn’t explicitly feminist. He wasn’t progressive.
This is the chief complaint the Sad Puppies have against you and your kind. You require all fiction to conform to your political worldview explicitly.
“[S]cience fiction writers wanting to be on the far horizon of the known science-fictional universe must read widely,” Harris says. That’s advice he’d do well to take himself. He might start with Nnedi Okorofor’s recent novella Binti, in which the titular protagonist explains to her alien captors, “There are different kinds of humans.” You need different perspectives and different voices if you want to imagine differently. In a world where everyone is the same, the future is going to be bland and monochrome, no matter how up-to-the-minute you are on your science.
Noah has just finished explaining to us that Harris isn’t feminist or progressive enough, and then tells us that we need “different perspectives.” What a wonderful contradiction. He wants our perspective to go away, consigned to the dustbin of history. He wants to replace our work with Progressive message fiction, with feminist work. We should omit white male characters from our books, unless as he described earlier, we are cutting them down to size. And then he sanctimoniously tells us that he doesn’t want a world where everyone is the same.
Diversity is your central, defining principle, and yet your answer to us is to get rid of our “bland and monochrome” world view. Is Science Fiction more or less diverse if it presents multiple worldviews, instead of solely presenting an explicitly Progressive-Feminist one?
Noah edits the online comics-and-culture website The Hooded Utilitarian and is the author of the book Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics, 1941-1948.
Bondage and Feminism in 1940s Wonder Woman Comics… that’s worth a laugh. Who buys this shit, anyway?
This is going to be long. I have no intention of pulling any punches, or letting the lies of the big-media SJWs go unchallenged. Today, for Halloween at work, I dressed as a Crusader Knight, complete with functional armor and, most importantly, actual gauntlets.
Consider these gauntlets thrown in the general direction of Amy Wallace, whose slanderous lies and clear Social Justice sympathies have led to the once-respectable publication of Wired releasing a load of scandalous garbage, a heaping pile of dung lobbed at the smoking ruins of the Science Fiction community. I’m not sure what my own writing, living here in the dark corners of the Internet, can do, but I make the challenge nonetheless.
Let the fisking begin.
Amy Wallace chose the title of her article carefully, I am sure, and spent hours polishing her writing to perfection. Doubtless, editors and proofreaders carefully scrubbed the submission before it was finally posted. So let’s hold her and her ilk to account for this monstrosity: Sci-Fi’s Hugo Awards and the Battle for Pop Culture’s Soul.
Already she is knee-deep in delusion. She is framing this as a battle between good and evil, when the reality is more akin to a bunch of chimpanzees lobbing fecal matter at everyone they don’t like. There are no Jedi, no Sith Lords (Vox Day possibly excepted). We didn’t get assigned our various affiliations by some magical Dungeon Master. SJWs have this way of seeing everything in terms of a dramatic story in which they are the heroes, and opposition (even of the polite variety) is inherently evil. It’s the mob mentality of us or them taken to the ideological extreme. If you don’t like me and agree with me, you are evil.
And those of us who oppose them view this as borderline insane.
Amy Wallace begins with a screed about Marko Kloos and his novels. At first, this seems to be a relatively objective telling of how he came to be a finalist for the Best Novel category. But it doesn’t take long for her sympathies to manifest:
Which is why it was so devastating when he realized a few weeks later that his short-listing was, in his eyes, a sham. It turned out that activists angered by the increasingly multicultural makeup of Hugo winners—books featuring women, gay and lesbian characters, and people and aliens of every color—had gamed the voting system, mounting a campaign for slates of nominees made up mostly of white men. Kloos, who is white, says he was sickened to see his name listed. “I knew right away I was going to have to sit down and write an email and reject the nomination,” Kloos says. To his publisher, whose authors had never gotten a Hugo nod, Kloos was blunt. “This is the kind of stink,” he said, “that doesn’t wash off.”
SJWs always lie. It is axiomatic, as consistent as the rising and setting of the sun. Amy explains that “activists” were angry because characters were gay, or women, or aliens. What kind of nonsense is this? I am a participant in a number of forums and locales on the Internet where Sad and Rabid Puppies discuss authors, characters and books. Many of them (probably the majority) are fans of David Weber, whose penultimate Honor Harrington series is centered around a woman. His Safehold series features a transgender (a woman who became a man) as Merlin, arguably the most important character of the series. The Raj Whitehall series by S.M. Stirling and David Drake features two gay protagonists in the service of the titular Raj Whitehall. Sarah Hoyt (a female author and Sad Puppy, by the way) has a major gay character in her Darkship series.
And never mind the lunacy of referring to a supposed prejudice against actual aliens. What kind of idiocy is that? You read that and you’d think that the Sad Puppies are somehow prejudiced against Chewbacca or something. What a load of bullcrap.
IT IS THE EARLY 21ST CENTURY, and things aren’t going so well for Team Humanity. Back in April, when the mainstream press first started reporting on the attempt to hijack the Hugos, few outside the field cared. The edging out of fan-favorite authors who were women and people of color was unfortunate and ugly, but it seemed confined to one of literature’s crummier neighborhoods—nerd-on-nerd violence.
Amy writes this entire article as if it she were a front-line reporter in a great war in which the souls of Team Humanity are at stake. Next she’ll claim that Brian Williams was there with her. The edging out of fan-favorite authors like Larry Correia because of his political views was a much more obvious problem than this notion that women and “People of Color” were excluded.
Side note: this “People of Color” term is idiotic to begin with. Who came up with that name, anyway? Everybody has a skin color, including White people. If I were inclined to think like an SJW, I’d suggest that this was exclusionary and dehumanizing.
Fortunately I’m not that insane.
She calls this “nerd-on-nerd violence.” What, us having an ideological disagreement is violence now? Amy Wallace is either delusional and needs immediate therapy and medication, or completely in the tank for Progressive Social Justice. Violence… what a load.
But like the sound of starship engines, the Hugos don’t exist in a vacuum. “Gamergate” spawns rape threats aimed at women who have the temerity to offer opinions about videogames. The leading representatives of mainstream political parties build platforms around fear of Muslims and Planned Parenthood. A certain strain of comic book fan goes apoplectic when Captain America gets replaced with a black man and Thor gets replaced with a woman.
And there it is, the obligatory GamerGate reference. If you read these people frequently, you’ll soon see that they view GamerGate as the something like the Illuminati, some global conspiracy to institute White Male Supremacism or something, as if every GamerGater was Swastika-waving Neo Nazi. It’s beyond stupid. Did you trip and fall this morning? GamerGate!!!
Anyway, Brianna Wu got caught threatening herself awhile ago, and Gamergate conferences have had loads of bomb threats sent their way, something even Polygon was forced to admit. Amy Wallace reduces that whole affair to a strawman, that GG is all about sending rape threats to women.
As for Planned Parenthood, well excuse me for thinking that the sale of aborted fetal organs is objectionable.
What irritates many of us about the change to Captain America and Thor is that a mechanism already exists for bringing in whatever characters you like into a story: you can create new ones. You don’t have to change the gender, race, or other traits of a character in order to have a Black superhero or a female… whatever the Hell Thor is. Just make a new character!
It looks an awful lot like a counterrevolution—a push by once-powerful forces attempting to reclaim privileged status. Nowhere is this revanchism playing out more vividly than in the culturally potent literary subgenre of science fiction.
She just got done claiming that GamerGate is full of rapists (or, more charitably, people who threaten to rape), but no, now she’s back to the Sad Puppies being the great boogeyman. Look, Amy, Fiction is about one thing: telling a story. All else is secondary. This includes SJW-imposed quotas.
The three white men who led this movement broke no rules when they selected and promoted their Hugo nominees. They took advantage of a loophole in an arcane voting process that enables a relatively small number of voters to dominate.
No mention is made of the women who are leading it this year, I see.
Anyway, three white men, one who is mixed-race, one who is married to a Black woman, and one who is of Middle-Eastern descent. But okay, you persist in your white male narrative.
It is clear that Amy views white as evil. They are the bad guys, the evil empire, the Sith Lords.
First a group calling itself the Sad Puppies posted a slate of suggested candidates to a well-trafficked blog (a slate that included women writers as well as men). Then, a day later, a more militant wing, the Rabid Puppies, posted another slate that captured most of the original writers and added several more—with a directive that people vote it without deviating, creating an unstoppable bloc. Now, all the various Puppies insist they’re trying to expand, not reduce, diversity (at least as they define the word). They say the Hugos have gotten snobby and exclusionary. The Puppies hate the politicization of a genre they love and want to return it to its roots: exploration of the unknown and two-fisted adventure.
No, the Puppies are not insisting that they expand diversity, nor shrink it. What we insist is that diversity is irrelevant. It’s the story that matters. If you want to tell your story with a bunch of Norwegian Men who are whiter than a polar bear in a snowstorm, go ahead. If you want to have a cast of Gay Jewish Black Transgender Lesbians, nobody is stopping you. Write your story, and make it good.
Diversity is not the point of Science Fiction. Quotas for race, gender, etc… are not necessary nor desirable. It falls firmly under the category of nobody cares.
Of course, like all fiction, science fiction is inherently political. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, arguably the first sci-fi novel, was a monster story that explored the ethics of technological advance and the responsibilities of parenthood. Sci-fi uses a fantastical toolkit to take apart the here and now—from H. G. Wells’ novella The Time Machine to Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl, a cautionary tale of climate change. So trying to crush diversity of authors, of characters, of stories, of themes in sci-fi crushes the whole point. Which is perhaps the main reason to worry about Puppygate: Sci-fi that accommodates only one future, one kind of politics, and one kind of person just isn’t doing its job.
Amy admits something that SJWs often deny: they view everything as political. To Amy, Science Fiction cannot possibly by apolitical. It must have an agenda to it. We aren’t trying to crush diversity, Amy, we just don’t give a rat’s ass about it.
And then she decries that the Puppies are all about SciFi that accommodates only one future, one kind of politics. SJWs Always Project. This is the Social Justice initiative in a nutshell. They don’t like Conservatives, or Libertarians. Gamergate proves that they don’t even like outright Leftists who act independently of the herd.
For them, conformity to their diversity agenda is paramount. Their idea of diversity, mind you, excludes White Men, non-Leftists, and pretty much everybody who disagrees with them on anything. K.T. Bradford wants you to know that you shouldn’t read them at all.
That’s partially why so many authors with literary aspirations come sniffing around the genre so often. It lets them wrap ethical and cultural issues in highly readable plots. And now that movies are dominated by space and superheroes, television by dragons and zombies, books by plagues and ghosts, science fiction isn’t a backwater anymore. It’s mainstream.
No, Amy. Science Fiction does not need to be propaganda. Sometimes a space opera about exploding spaceships is just a damn space opera about exploding spaceships, and there is no reason whatsoever to read anything else into it.
Other works do, indeed, explore cultural and ethical issues. But, here’s the point: they don’t have to. There is no requirement that says your book must choose between, for example, Capitalism and Communism.
Over the summer, as the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention—where the Hugo winners are announced—approached, the final balloting became a referendum not only on the future of the genre but on the future of the future. “It’s one award,” N. K. Jemisin, the fantasy writer and two-time Hugo nominee, tells me, “but it’s a symbol of a battle for the zeitgeist.”
You know, I used to think that Vox Day was, perhaps, a bit too hasty in referring to N.K. Jemisin as a “half-savage.” I’m starting to reasses this. Only a moron would believe that the Hugos are a battle for the “future of the future.” Get a life, lady. Yes, Science Fiction is a theater in the wider Culture War that I often talk about here on The Declination, but the Hugos themselves are a fart in a hurricane, even in Science Fiction. Larry Correia is going to sell thousands of books whether or not he receives a silver dildo to place on his mantle.
After this, Amy Wallace goes into a tirade about Asimov and the first WorldCon. All it demonstrates to me is that the more things change, the more they stay the same:
IT’S THE YEAR 1939, and things aren’t going so well for the humans at the first World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon. About 200 fans have gathered in Caravan Hall at the New York World’s Fair and almost immediately started bickering. The bulk of the assembly suspects some members of a splinter group known as the Futurians—including pre-legendary Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl—of being communists plotting to disrupt the proceedings. Worldcon grandees bar them from entry. Asimov, characteristically, sneaks in.
Undeterred, the Futurians circulate a pamphlet that warns attendees of being “pounded into obedience by the controlling clique.” The pamphlet continues, “It is for YOU to decide whether you shall bow before unfair tactics and endorse the carefully arranged plans of the Convention Committee. Beware of any crafty speeches or sly appeals. BE ON YOUR GUARD!”
This could have been written yesterday. But it’s nice to know that Isaac Asimov would probably be a Puppy if he were alive today. Then again, perhaps he would just tell us that psychohistory and the Seldon equations mean that the Puppy Kickers will keel over on their own and we wouldn’t have to do a damn thing at all.
Wait, does that mean the Sad Puppies are the First Foundation?
The point is, sci-fi and fantasy fandom was born in struggle over who owned the genre. The Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies aren’t even the first to campaign for the award. In 1987 the Church of Scientology successfully lobbied to get L. Ron Hubbard’s novel Black Genesis nominated for a Hugo. It finished sixth out of five nominees, defeated by “No Award.”
I love how Amy inserts the reference to Scientology when discussing slate nominations. This is an interesting SJW tactic, wherein they compare something ridiculous to something not-ridiculous in an effort to tar the latter with the same brush. Who cares what Scientologists do, what relevance does this have with the concerns of the Puppies?
This time around, the leaders of the Puppies movement are sci-fi authors. All are past Hugo nominees, though none of them has ever won. Larry Correia, a 40-year-old Utah accountant, former gun store owner, and NRA lobbyist turned novelist, created the Sad Puppies three years ago. He came up with the name after seeing an ASPCA ad featuring Sarah McLachlan and forlorn canines staring into the camera. “We did a joke based on that: that the leading cause of puppy-related sadness was boring message-fic winning awards,” he says, laughing. Correia also explains that initially, in that first campaign, “our spokesman was a cartoon manatee named Wendell. Wendell doesn’t speak English. You can see we kept this really super serious, right?”
The disdain for things like the NRA and guns comes through loud and clear, Amy. Wendell disapproves. This is signalling to fellow SJWs, of course, that Larry Correia is an evil bad man, one of those scary gun nuts.
But Correia had some serious complaints. He felt that the Hugos had become dominated by what Internet conservatives call Social Justice Warriors, or SJWs for short, who value politics over plot. When Correia unleashed the Sad Puppies campaign for the second time, in 2014, two particular Hugo contenders really set his comrades off. One, a short story by John Chu called “The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere,” depicts a gay man who decides to come out to his traditional Chinese family after water starts falling from the sky on anyone who tells a lie. And in Ann Leckie’s debut novel Ancillary Justice, most of the characters in a far-future galactic empire do not see gender, which Leckie conveys by using only female pronouns.
They are dominated by SJWs. Patrick Nielsen Hayden and his wife are both SJWs. PNH is in a position of power over the Hugo awards. He’s made sure to amass quite a load of awards for himself, of course. And he has publicly shouted “blood libel” at L. Jagi Lamplighter, a woman of Jewish descent, right there at World Con. The amusing thing is that SJWs fail their own tests when racism and sexism are concerned. They are the first to say “House Nigger” when a Black man decides to consider an alternative point of view. They will shout “internalized misogyny” at any woman who dares to disagree, as if these people are arguing for enslaving themselves.
Anyway, these two stories sound like utter garbage. I haven’t read them and have no interest in reading them. I mean, magical rain that makes everybody tell the truth is the kind of plot device a 5 year old would come up with while sitting on the toilet. And the gender-blindness of the second story is ridiculously stupid. Any advanced galactic empire should have a basic command of biology. Science Fiction should, you’d think, have some degree of science in it, after all.
I can comment on one SJW story I have read, and that’s If you were a dinosaur, my love. It’s a load of uninteresting, sorry drivel, and if this is the future of Science Fiction that N.K. Jemisin is pushing, count me out. I’d rather go yell at Sarah Hoyt to finish Darkship Revenge. Now there’s a female author who knows how to write Science Fiction stories.
Correia’s Warbound lost to Leckie’s novel at the 2014 Hugos. This year, the Puppies got his Monster Hunter Nemesis a nomination, but he turned it down. “I very specifically don’t want this to be about me,” he says, “and I didn’t want them to be able to make it about me.” Correia and Brad Torgersen, a 41-year-old chief warrant officer in the Army Reserve who took over the third Sad Puppies campaign this year, tell me they’re not racist or sexist or antigay. They just want sci-fi to be less preachy and upper-crusty and more fun. Torgersen calls his books blue-collar speculative fiction; on the phone from the Middle East, where he is currently deployed, Torgersen laments what he calls “the cognitive dissonance of people saying, ‘No, the Hugos are about quality,’ and then at the same time they’re like: ‘Ooh, we can vote for this author because they’re gay,’ or ‘Ooh, we’re going to vote for this author because they’re not white.’”
Larry Correia is often assumed to have created Sad Puppies because he “really wants a Hugo.” John Scalzi said as much in a Tweet sometime back. But, in fact, Larry doesn’t give a damn. He sells a lot of books, makes a good living, and has the adoration of his fans. As Amy admits here, Larry knows it’s not all about him.
Torgersen often notes in interviews that he’s been married to an African-American woman for 21 years, so “I don’t need some know-it-all to come lecture me about race stuff,” he tells me. Torgersen says the Hugos are beset by identity politics—and are the poorer for it: “When people go on about how we’re anti-diversity, I’m like: No. All we’re saying is storytelling ought to come first.”
Brad Torgersen was frequently decried as a racist for his participation in Sad Puppies. When pressed on this, he released a photo of his family. His wife is a Black woman, and his daughter is naturally thus of mixed-race. But how did the SJWs respond? With this offensive lie:
Arthur Chu thought this was an expression of racism, and I cannot fathom anything more delusional or mean-spirited than such an accusation. There’s Brad with his family, his face lit with happiness and pride in his wife and daughter, and the SJWs come out and accuse him of racism for this.
Amy Wallace at least manages to avoid falling into the hateful tirade of Arthur Chu. But she would do well to understand that Brad doesn’t just “note” that he is married to a Black woman, he clearly loves her and their child together. Anita Sarkeesian often tells gamers to “listen and believe” when somebody says something (she’s usually lying, of course, but that’s another story). Perhaps the SJWs should take their own advice.
Ah, but of course that’s not all the Puppies are saying. At least, not the Rabid faction. Their leader is a self-described libertarian blogger named Theodore Beale who goes by the pen name Vox Day—loosely, “the Voice of God,” though he says the meaning of the name is more complex. He’s a 47-year-old former rocker (he wrote songs for Psykosonik) and is the son of a wealthy Minnesota entrepreneur and Republican leader currently in jail for tax evasion. Beale speaks five languages, he tells me, and one of his children “is the youngest male published author in history.” The book came out when the boy was 6.
Oh boy… here it comes.
Beale also says that he’s not white. “I’m Native American. My great-grandfather rode with Pancho Villa, and I get to do that—make that claim—according to the rules of SJW.” When I ask how much Native American blood he has, he says, “I’m not going to go into details, but I will say that it is so significant that even my kids qualify for tribal membership. I’m a mix. I mean, I’m also considered a Mexican. I have the genetic analysis.”
It’s amusing how Amy quickly asks Vox “how much” Native American blood he has. SJWs have been caught falsifying having any Native American blood, but Vox and his children qualify for tribal membership and that is seen as potentially insufficient. This is just a variant Radical Feminists saying something like “she’s not a real woman” or Left-wing Blacks saying “he’s not a real Black man.”
He qualifies for tribal membership by their own standards. The matter is closed.
Based on his voluminous writings, Beale—who writes fiction, edits for a small publisher called Castalia House, and designs games—opposes racial diversity, homosexuality, and women’s suffrage. Speaking by phone from his home in Northern Italy, Beale quibbles with that analysis. For example, he says he doesn’t oppose all women’s suffrage, just women voting in a representative democracy. The reason: “Women are very, very highly inclined to value security over liberty” and thus are “very, very easy to manipulate.” He favors direct democracy—and, obviously, men.
Much of this is true. I read a lot of what Vox has to say, and I don’t always agree with him. But, at the same time, it’s important to be fair here. Vox often says that “Diversity + Proximity = War.” He’s absolutely right. Yugoslavia, the breakup of the Soviet Union, and numerous other historical examples point to human nature having a great deal of difficulty with certain kinds diversity. Some types of people don’t get along with other types of people. Note that the Sad Puppies do not agree with Vox on this, on the main.
But when Amy Wallace says this (indeed, when any SJW says this), they conflate opposition to this on a meta level as racism or racial hatred. Vox suggests that the purpose of nation-states is to predominately look after the interests of their own people. So Nigeria should look out for Nigerians. Italy for the Italians. Etc… Disagree all you like. Indeed, I’m not sure what to make of it myself, but it’s not racial hatred. He’s not arguing for genocide, segregation, or any of that. And you can have a discussion as to what being Nigerian, or Italian, or American actually means.
As to the rest, I don’t know that he favors direct democracy by only men. That’s an oversimplification. In fact, after reading Vox daily for several years, I can say I’m still not 100% sure what his ideal nation-state looks like. Funny how Amy can claim to be an expert after some cursory research and interview.
For the rest, go visit Vox’s site yourself and don’t take Amy’s word for it.
Having a conversation with Beale feels sort of like walking around a room designed by M. C. Escher. It turns in on itself in unexpected and at times dizzying ways. A sampling: When I ask him why he once called Jemisin, who is black, an “educated, but ignorant half-savage” on his blog, he says it wasn’t because of her race. Then he launches into an explication of what he calls “new” genetic research, which he says he doesn’t expect very many people to understand.
Anybody can be a savage. It’s not a racial term. The ISIS goons beheading children are savages. Hitler was a savage. Even Mugabe… savage. You would think a writer like Amy Wallace would understand what that word means.
Vox’s genetic research stuff is, indeed, a bit strange. But what of it? He’s allowed to have those views. It’s worth noting that he has repeatedly denied the notion of general racial superiority. To Vox, asking the question “which race is superior” is stupid, because it’s too general. If you ask the question “which race is the tallest” now you have something you can actually measure and discuss. But is height an indicator of superiority? That depends on what you are doing. In Basketball, absolutely. As a mechanic on sea-going ship, height gets in the way.
When I point out that he was intentionally baiting a person of color with a term that has racial overtones, his answer sounds positively gleeful. “I’m calling her a half-savage because I know it’s going to offend the crap out of her,” Beale says. “She’s going to run around screaming ‘Racist! Racist!’ for the next 10 years.” A beat, and then he adds: “I don’t consider all black people to be half-savages. I mean, some people are. Here in Europe, for example, we have actual proper Africans, not African-Americans. This leads to problems, like people shitting on top of the closed toilets. They don’t know how to use indoor plumbing, OK? This is not civilized behavior.”
I don’t want to make this fisking all about Vox. Indeed, something that may shock Amy Wallace is that many Sad Puppies are very ambivalent about him. Some like him and agree with him. Some like him and disagree with him (a notion SJWs are unfamiliar with). And still others don’t like him at all.
Torgersen says he believes Vox Day is a character Beale plays. “It’s performance art, like Andy Kaufman. He’s Darth Vader breathing heavily into your phone. He wants people to be enraged and flipping out and tearing their hair and losing their minds. And he gets that every single time.”
Brad may have a point here. Certainly Vox knows just the right buttons to push to enrage SJWs. I must say, it’s highly amusing to watch.
Beale—whose slate got five of Castalia House’s writers and editors, including himself, on this year’s Hugo ballot—acknowledges his rogue reputation. “I love chaos,” he says. “I wanted to leave a big, smoking hole where the Hugo Awards were. All this has ever been is a giant ‘fuck you’—one massive gesture of contempt.”
Vox is what we call Chaotic Neutral in the old D&D alignment system. Chaos for the sake of Chaos.
IT IS … WELL, SOME VAGUELY MEDIEVAL period in a land with teleportation and magicians called scriveners, and things aren’t going so well for the brown-skinned, matriarchal warriors in the barony of Darr, one of many territories in the world of N. K. Jemisin’s debut novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (first in a trilogy, of course). To obtain birth control, poorer people buy illegal, bootleg spells called sigils that last only a month, or they risk sterilization or death by trying to apply sigils to themselves. The Darre people have also managed to enslave several of their gods. And the gods? They’re pissed. Like Tolkien’s Middle-earth, Jemisin’s world is what’s called in the trade a secondary world, “but it’s not meant to emulate anything that looks like our world or any of our cultures,” she says. And that, of course, is part of the point.
This is what irritates me about SJW fiction. The political angle is so transparent, it’s almost insulting. It’s like every story they write has to get filtered through Pravda before it is published. I mean, if she wants to write a story about brown-skinned matriarchal warriors, that’s her own business. I don’t really care. At the same time she’s framing this story as a political statement. She’s telling you that brown women should have free birth control. The story is appendage to this. It’s secondary to the political goals. N.K. Jemisin has it exactly backwards.
When Jemisin was in elementary school in Mobile, Alabama, she noticed that no one in any of the stories in the sci-fi section of her local library looked like her. “I had picked up the fact that science fiction and fantasy was about white people,” she says. So the description of the protagonist in Octavia Butler’s novel Dawn hit Jemisin like a lightning bolt. “I remember the mention of her family name, and the fact that she’d married a Nigerian man, and people’s reactions to her,” she says. “I suddenly had this ‘Oh, my God, she’s black’ moment.” Jemisin came by her confusion honestly: The cover of the 1987 edition featured a white woman with black hair. In later editions, the illustration was changed to a black woman.
I’ve got an entirely separate article I want to write about this very concept. Why does it matter if somebody looks like you in a story? Stories are not self-insertion fics. The world isn’t always about you. Indeed, it almost never is, something Larry Correia already explained in this very same article. When I read David Weber’s Honor Harrington series, the titular character was nothing like me. She was a woman, of course, with Asian features and brown skin. She was also a master tactician, had an ability to inspire her crew, and was an exceptional leader. If she had a flaw, it was in an inability to express herself properly.
I am the exact opposite. I am a man of White and Middle-Eastern descent. I have no leadership qualities, and if I have a character flaw it is expressing myself too much. Honor Harrington was nothing like me.
Did that impact my enjoyment of the books at all? Not one whit. I don’t require or even particularly care if the character is “just like me.”
Women and people of color have always written science fiction—Butler, Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Samuel R. Delany, Margaret Atwood, and many more. They’ve made comic books and videogames and movies too. But today these properties aren’t alt-texts anymore. As science fiction has become mainstream, the genre has gotten more diverse. Major comic book publishers are foregrounding women and people of color. The casts of the new Star Wars movies have their diversity cranked to It’s a Small World levels.
And yet, nobody in Sad Puppies is making noise about a Black man being a lead in the Star Wars movie. They are waiting to see if the movie (and the actor) is any good, because that’s the sole metric that matters. I don’t care if the cast of Star Wars is “It’s a Small World” or just a bunch of Norwegians in white snow suits. But, please, no more whiny Anakin Skywalker, like in the prequels. That was just pathetic.
White or not, prequel Anakin was pathetic.
So you might be asking yourself: Isn’t there room for everybody under the science fiction tent? You guys over there can keep reading hard military sci-fi where the physics of deceleration from 0.5c is a plot point. And you guys over here can read about a transgendered person with dark skin and epicanthic folds pondering the existential implications of sex with an AI.
But here’s the honest truth, as Jemisin has eloquently blogged: White male authors have long enjoyed unacknowledged privileges. Even today, their books are more likely to get published, more likely to be reviewed (usually by white men), and more likely to get those reviews in prominent, mainstream publications—even though, Jemisin says, the audience for sci-fi and fantasy books includes so many women and people of color.
Whenever an SJW says “here’s the honest truth” be prepared for a bald-faced lie. White male authors don’t enjoy special privileges. Rather, writers of idiotic tripe like N.K. Jemisin enjoy privileges. Few would even read this crap, much less nominate it for awards, were it not for this notion of sticking it to the imagined evil Straight White Male Patriarchy.
Tor is run by Leftists like PNH and Irene Gallo. The media is sympathetic to your point of view. When a Black man is killed by a White cop, everybody notices. When the reverse happens (and it HAS happened), nobody even bats an eyelash. It’s #BlackLivesMatter not #StopPoliceBrutality or something else neutral. It is about how many gay authors get nominated, or how many Black authors get nominated, not whether or not any of the works are good.
White men are more likely to get published? By who? Amy, your side controls all SciFi publishers except Baen and Castalia. Indeed, it’s Indie publishing and Amazon that aspiring White male authors like myself often have to go to, because we all know that PNH would chuck our work into the garbage can the second he picked up a whiff of non-Progressive thought in it.
You keep thinking that we are “The Man.” Here’s a newsflash for you, Amy: YOU ARE “THE MAN.”
DC Comics bows to your wishes. Hollywood is famous for being Left-leaning. Even Politico acknowledges that the media is 95% Liberal. Your side has all the power. We don’t have privilege, and we haven’t for decades.
You call us the oppressors. You project your own actions onto us.
Jemisin recently published her sixth novel—The Fifth Season—which garnered her first-ever review, a rave, in the New York Times Sunday books section. The book explores themes of oppression that are not foreign to her; indeed, Jemisin has gone to battle with Beale. “He dances up to the line and tries very carefully not to cross it,” she says. “He simply says, ‘This person is not human,’ then opens his comments section and doesn’t stop anyone when they start saying, ‘We should run a train on that bitch.’ This is the standard modus operandi for white supremacists who don’t want to go to jail.”
Poor, suffering N.K. Jemisin is getting rave reviews in the Times. She’s the media darling, and you expect us to believe that she is the victim here?
As to Vox, he is not responsible for what people comment on in his blog. And, as someone who has commented there for several years, I can say that people who say really nasty things like that do get their posts deleted. Not, mind you, because Vox gives a damn about anyone insulting N.K. Jemisin (clearly he doesn’t care), but because Vox is not a fan of people polluting his site with unverifiable statements and blatant rhetoric.
Despite all the bile sprayed at her (the “train” threat is a euphemism for gang rape), Jemisin still believes that her chosen genre has a lofty purpose. “Science fiction is not actually the literature of the future,” she says. “It’s the literature of the present, viewing the future as allegory.”
People have told me to “go blow a goat” before on the Internet. Par for the course, N.K. Jemisin. You’ll survive the badfeels and meanie-heads online, okay? So stop thinking this makes you special.
Yet amid the Puppies debate, something else is going on, too: In a genre defined by curiosity, by the question “What if?” and by yearning for a sense of wonder, some fans acknowledge that modern science fiction can feel infected with a certain academic torpor—if not outright self-indulgence. As one Sad Puppy supporter I met at this summer’s Worldcon grumbled, “Just because you had a dream doesn’t mean we all want to read it,” he said. “Just because you have an MFA and write a story, you may win a Hugo, but don’t kid yourself: Some of this stuff is unreadable.”
Hugo award winners have declined in quality over the years. Frank Herbert’s Dune was a masterpiece. John Scalzi’s derivative (from Star Trek) work, Redshirts, won the same award. I rest my case. Sad Puppies suggest a multitude of reasons for this decline, most notably that politicization of SciFi and this idea that everything has to be written in a high literary style to be award-worthy are at the top of that list.
Annie Bellet wouldn’t go that far, but she does admire many of the authors the Puppies championed. The 34-year-old writer of self-published urban fantasy novels had a short story, “Goodnight Stars,” on both the Sad and Rabid Puppies slates and received her first Hugo nomination this year. Still, she—like Kloos—took her name out of the running. “I love the Hugo Awards,” Bellet tells me in an emotional interview in the convention hall. “To be nominated was awesome. But I’m a writer. That’s what I want my public face to be. I don’t want people to think of me as some political figure or some ball in a political game.”
For Bellet, the Sad Puppies aren’t abstractions—they’re people she actually knows. She thinks Correia is a “great guy” and loves his seven-book Monster Hunter series. And she once considered Torgersen an ally. They met in a writers’ workshop. “We came up as baby writers together. We were friends—and I’m using the past tense,” she says, wiping away tears. “He’s hurt a lot of people.”
Authors are being forced to choose sides. You either for or against the Puppies. Neutrality is not accepted by the Social Justice Warriors. It is, however, accepted by the Puppies. Does Amy not consider that, perhaps, Brad Torgersen feels the same way? That he may have been shocked by the loathing former friends now have for him, merely because he chose the “other” side?
Blond-haired, fair-skinned, and “covered in tattoos,” as she puts it, Bellet is from Portland, Oregon. “I’m adopted, and I have a sister who is black, a sister who’s Vietnamese. My mom is a lesbian. I grew up in a liberal, inclusive environment. Still, I broke a lot of noses after hearing the N-word growing up, trying to defend my little sister. So I do not understand this white persecution narrative.”
Bellet says she thinks Beale “rode” Correia and Torgersen “like ponies. I told Brad that. He said, ‘Just because we’re on the freeway in different cars heading the same direction doesn’t mean we’re together.’ I said, ‘Dude, you’re in the same car, and Vox Day is driving.’ He doesn’t get it. It makes me so sad.”
Vox Day is categorically not driving the Sad Puppies. They are allies thrown together by circumstance. And then there are people like me, somewhere in between Brad and Vox in general view. This is an enemy-mine situation in which Brad gets shot at, notices that Vox is shooting at the people who are shooting at him, and makes a choice. Dare I say, it was a rational choice, too.
I know SJWs think of non-SJWs as all being “evil cis-gender heteronormative white supremacists” or whatever the two-minutes hate term is this week, but we are not ideologically unified. The sole point of agreement between all the Puppies is that SJWs have wrecked WorldCon, the Hugos, and that the politicization and elitism is a sign of endemic corruption in the community.
Everything else is up for grabs. We don’t play ideological policing games on our end. SJWs are projecting their own tendencies onto us.
That being said, for as much difference as there is between the views of Vox and Brad, they are at least able to remain civil and fight for the same cause.
She doesn’t think Beale even read her short story. Bellet was on the Sad Puppies slate her onetime friends had promulgated, which he mostly copied. “I’m everything Vox Day doesn’t like—which I consider a badge of honor,” she tells me. “I’m a queer female writing about shape-shifters—that fantasy ‘crap’ that’s not ‘real’ science fiction.” Here’s the thing she thinks Beale doesn’t grasp, she says: “Nerd culture brings everybody together. People don’t care what you look like. If you want to be a black Khaleesi, go for it!”
If Vox says he read it, I am inclined to believe him. He’s not a liar, whatever else he might be. It’s funny, because Bellet is saying exactly what the Sad Puppies are saying. If you want to write a Black character, that is your own business. Nobody cares one way or the other.
IT IS AUGUST 2015, and things are looking up for Team Humanity. Or are they? A record 11,700-plus people have bought memberships to the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, Washington, where the Hugo winners are soon to be announced. A record number have also forked over dues of at least $40 in time to be allowed to vote, and almost 6,000 cast ballots, 65 percent more than ever before.
But are the new voters Puppies? Or are they, in the words ofGame of Thrones author George R. R. Martin, “gathering to defend the integrity of the Hugos”? Just before 8 pm on August 22, in a vast auditorium packed with “trufans” dressed in wizard garb, corsets, chain mail, and the like, one question is on most attendee’s minds: Will the Puppies prevail?
The evening begins with an appearance by a fan cosplaying as the Grim Reaper, and that turns out to be an omen for the Puppies. By evening’s end, not a single Puppy-endorsed candidate takes home a rocket. In the five categories that had only Puppy-provided nominees on the ballot—Best Novella, Best Short Story, Best Related Work, and Best Editors for Short and Long Form—voters choose “No Award.”
I’m exhausted of this “Team Humanity” bullshit. You are not Team Humanity, Amy Wallace. You are not the good guys, the liberators, the fighters-against-the-system. You are the System. You are in control.
The Sad Puppies did what they set out to do. They proved that the cliques did, indeed, exist, and they would vote along ideological lines. The Rabid Puppies were the real winners, though. The Sad Puppies want to reform the awards, to bring back the old community. The Rabid Puppies wanted No Award. They wanted the award to become meaningless, or at least expose it as already meaningless.
Because the Puppy Kickers refused to engage with Brad Torgersen, Sarah Hoyt, and the other more moderate folks among the Puppies, they will now have to deal with Vox Day, a guy who intentionally refers to himself as the Supreme Dark Lord.
Congratulations, Puppy Kickers, you exchange the olive branch for an ideological nuclear device.
Earlier, Beale explained to me that his plan was a “Xanatos gambit”—“that’s where you set it up so that no matter what your enemy does, he loses and you win.” No surprise then, that in an email he sends after the awards ceremony, Beale is crowing. “The scorched-earth strategy being pursued by the SJWs in science fiction is evidence that we hold the initiative and we are winning,” he writes. The number of major categories in which no awards are given “demonstrates the extent to which science fiction has been politicized and degraded by their far left politics.”
But even as Beale vows to renew the fight, John Scalzi, a novelist and three-time Hugo winner who has been among Beale’s most outspoken opponents, says the prominence of writers like Jemisin proves the war is already over. “She stands on the shoulders of every other woman and minority and gay and lesbian and trans- or bisexual folk who had to put up with shit before,” he says. “She and lots of other people are now in a position where they can firmly plant their feet and say, ‘This is bullshit,’ and have a large number of people go, ‘You’re absolutely right.’”
So are they victims or not, Amy? Scalzi waffles on this. N.K. Jemisin’s feelings must be protected by evil meanies like Vox, to the point that Vox is kicked out of the SFWA itself, the first person ever to receive such treatment. Yet, at the same time, she is “standing on her own.”
You contradict yourselves.
Anyway, when Scalzi goes up against Vox, all I see is a chihuahua yapping at a Rottweiler. It’s dumb, and evidence that the Dunning-Kruger Effect is still valid.
Which brings us back, in a roundabout way, to Martin. He has attended almost every Worldcon since 1971 and has won four Hugos and lost 15, not counting any related to the HBO show. So Martin says he can say with utter sincerity that it is an honor merely to be nominated—not because the Hugo is a hoity-toity accolade bestowed by Ivy Leaguers, as the Puppies charge, but because of the caliber of past winners, men and women alike.
The caliber of “past winners” is particularly apt here. I wonder if John Scalzi really thinks he is as good an author as Frank Herbert was.
Martin, the son of a longshoreman, rejects the idea that anyone has been excluded from the Hugos for being too lowbrow or politically incorrect. But, he says, it’s not a popularity contest, either. “The reward for popularity is popularity! It’s truckloads of money! Do you need the trophy, too?” he asks. “Can’t the trophy go to the guy who sells 5,000 copies but is doing something innovative?” Of course, that’s easy for someone of Martin’s stature—and success—to say. But it’s hard to argue with his lament about the hateful discourse and the name-calling that the Puppy-scuffle has prompted. At one point earlier this year, Martin was so despairing that he blogged that the Hugos had been broken. “I am not sure they can ever be repaired,” he wrote.
Amy Wallace tells us that GRRM is the “son of a longshoreman” in order to establish his credentials as suitably plebeian, enough to prove in her mind that the Puppy accusations are false. GRRM makes boatloads of cash and has been adopted by Hollywood. But it’s not quite a matter of being politically incorrect. The SFWA, for instance, continued to support convicted pedophiles in their midst. So it’s not a matter of being anything. You don’t even have to be a good person. As long as you parrot the right Leftists talking points, you can excuses of anything. Here’s a nice laundry list of things the Left doesn’t mind, so long as you hate the Puppies, or GamerGate, or whatever.
GRRM kicks the Puppies, so he can heap an extra dose of rape in his stories, and nobody cares.
He and Amy, incidentally, admit that the Rabid Puppies did indeed win at the Hugos in 2015. Even GRRM sees the writing on the wall. The award is doomed, it merely has to go about the grisly mechanics of death.
By the time he shows up in Spokane, however, Martin is more optimistic. Sanguine enough, in fact, to plan a Hugo Losers Party, a tradition he’d started back in 1976 but then let fall into other hands. Martin prints up invites—“Losers Welcome. Winners Will Be Mocked. No Assholes!”—hires a band and a caterer, and rents a 12,000-square-foot historic mansion. The party starts right after the Hugo ceremony ends, and winners who show up are required to don rubber coneheads. Losers get magic markers to write on the cone.
After midnight, Martin takes to a balcony to announce that, for the first time, he will bestow his own awards—dubbed the Alfies in honor of Alfred Bester, whose book The Demolished Man won Best Novel at the first-ever Hugos in 1953. “This year all of us were losers,” Martin says, explaining that the Alfies, made at Martin’s expense from streamlined 1950s hood ornaments, are his attempt to take a little of the sting off.
I think, deep down, even the SJWs know this party won’t last forever. Sarah Hoyt explains this for us. Indie publishing is the future. The great gatekeepers of Science Fiction are going the way of the dinosaur. Tor is thrashing on the mat, but it’s down for the count. The glitterati and celebrity hoopla of the Hugo awards is going to die, and they know it.
Soon, GRRM will have to host a Loser’s party for everyone who once won. Does anyone really think that Ancillary Justice will be remembered decades from now?
Before the Losers Party hits full swing, Worldcon releases data that allows a look at a parallel universe where the Puppies hadn’t intervened. That lets Martin give trophies to the people who would have been on the ballot if not for all the barking, as well as some extra winners decided “by committee, and that committee is me,” Martin says. Sci-fi writer Eric Flint gets an Alfie for his “eloquence and rationality” in blog posts about the Puppy kerfuffle. Legendary author Robert Silverberg, who has attended every Worldcon since 1953, receives an Alfie just for being himself.
The biggest cheers, though, break out when Martin honors Annie Bellet and Marko Kloos. The new data show Bellet would likely have been on the ballot even without the Puppy slates; the Alfie clearly stuns her. In her acceptance speech she says she wants the Hugos to “be about the fiction. And that was important enough to me to give one up.”
Eric Flint really disappoints me. There was a man whose books I loved. Indeed, I still love them. And I read them knowing he was a Socialist. That’s right. Write good books, and I don’t care if you are an adherent to the exact opposite economic philosophy that I adhere to. It’s about the stories, stupid.
But Eric Flint, who could have been a bridge between our two worlds, for he was one of the few individuals able to cross both community lines, has instead thrown in with the Puppy Kickers. The SJWs tossed an award for “eloquence and rationality” his way. But, I suspect, this was a warning to him: stay with us and you get your slice of cake. Go with them, and you get nothing.
Bellet is an interesting case, eh? So much for the notion that the Puppies are all a bunch of racist, sexist, misogynists. They can even agree on what merits an award on rare occasion.
By turning down his Puppy-powered nomination, Kloos had made room on the ballot for the winner, Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem. Kloos tells me he was thrilled to have played even a small part in honoring the novel, and earlier in the evening he’d posed for photos with the book’s translator. Now, standing on the balcony with Martin, Kloos grips his hood ornament and grins broadly. “I may get nominated again,” he tells the partygoers. “But knowing why I got this and who gave it to me—tonight, this beats the shit out of that rocket.”
Even the Puppy Kickers know the rocket is worthless, in the end.
And that’s the real lesson here. Because the SJWs were unwilling to consider moderates like Brad Torgersen, they will now have to deal with the ascendance of the Rabid Puppies who are determined to hasten the say in which the Hugos will die.
You slapped away the olive branch. And that’s on you and your ilk, Amy.
One of the fascinating side effects of being involved in both #GamerGate and Sad Puppies, is that there are thousands of Social Justice Warriors intent on referring to me as evil. Ben Kuchera was fond of telling GamerGaters to “clean themselves up.” And references to Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies as outright Nazis are not terribly difficult to find.
It’s worth noting that this is the same man who said “pedophilia is not a moral wrong.” I think he’s evil, but not because he disagrees with me on #Gamergate.
What is it that we stand accused of doing? What Evil have we actually done? GamerGaters are not murdering anybody. So far as I know, they do not justify pedophilia or child molestation (as the Antis have been known to do on occasion). At least as many bomb threats have been sent to GamerGate meetings as have been sent to Antis, and it’s not clear that anybody in GamerGate was ever involved in such activities to begin with. One suspects the hand of 4chan in both sets of threats. There have been no rapes (crappy fictional treatments in Law & Order SVU aside), no thefts, no assaults.
Just what evil are we supposed to have done?
I’m a results sort of guy. Show me that a group of people has done something, or is more likely to do something, and you will have my attention. But the rantings and ravings of SJWs are about vague concepts and political disagreements. I don’t want to play the game Steve Davidson did recently by dumping a bunch of strawmen on you, but suffice it to say it is a principle of mine that political disagreements alone do not elevate to some kind of cosmic battle good vs. evil.
Or, put in more simple terms, actions speak louder than words. You can say you are for equality until you are blue in the face, but if you toss around the hashtag #KillAllMen, and are not doing so in some kind of sarcastic or ironic fashion (or trolling), then you are functionally not for equality. You are for killing men. I.e. you are evil.
But the evil isn’t because you disagree with me politically. It’s because you want to kill all men. Stalin, for instance, could protest innocence and goodwill until he was blue in the face, but I would not believe him, because of the massacres, the gulags, and the terror campaigns.
Communism is, in my opinion, an evil ideology, because whatever the intentions of the ideology, the results are catastrophically bad. But even members of an evil ideology are not necessarily all evil themselves. C.S. Lewis explains:
‘Lord, is it then true… that thou and Tash are one?’ The Lion growled so that the earth shook and said, ‘It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites.
For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore, if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child?’ I said, ‘Lord, thou knowest how much I understand.’
But I said also, ‘Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days.’ ‘Beloved,’ said the Glorious One, ‘unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.’
This is similar to my own view of Islam, which I also view as a fundamentally evil ideology. Yet I would not be alive today if it were not for the actions of a Muslim who saved the lives of my own ancestors in the Ottoman Empire. The ideology was evil, but in this case, the individual was not.
This separation of individual and ideology is something that SJWs just cannot seem to manage. They may (wrongly) view my own political positions as evil, but they also seek to tar the individual with the same brush, seemingly unaware that this is a colossal mistake. The drive for ideological purity convinces them that they need to expel individuals who disagree with them, and that disagreement is, itself, a form of evil.
A commenter over at Vile770 dismissed and denounced me handily as a GamerGater, as if to say “well, he’s automatically evil because he’s a GamerGater.”
Any ideology which contains within it a drive for purity will result in evil. Nazism desired racial purity. Communism desired a purity of economic class. Islam desires a purity of religious thought. This, incidentally, is why I am a Christian. Christ explains that all of us are sinners. We have all done wrong. We are all impure.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Since mankind is categorically impure, an ideology that desires purity of any kind will inevitably result in violence and evil because human nature will not accord with it. Only force can make it so. And this is my beef with Social Justice. The Virtue Signalling among them is a a sort of ideological purity test. Agree with a particular instance of supposed racism, sexism, etc… or you will be denounced. They seek to control the state, the levers of power within social groups, corporations, etc… so as to force you into alignment with their political philosophy.
Don’t worry. Be this evil, and a few decades later, Capitalists will sell you on a T-Shirt and make millions.
I disagree with fellow Sad Puppies all the time, and even more often with fellow GamerGaters. #Gamergate crosses all sorts of political spectrums. Yet this does not become some kind of fundamental divide. I do not think these individuals evil for their disagreement. I don’t even think all Leftists are evil, or all Muslims, or all of anything. I oppose the ideologies, and will not waver in this one iota, but understanding that individuals are not the ideology is important, so as to avoid the very sin of purity to begin with.
So I guess the point of all this is that not only has my side in gaming and Science Fiction not done anything particularly evil that I am aware of, Social Justice Warriors are unable to separate the individual from the group. They cannot distinguish between specifics and generalities. They falsely label the group as evil, when the group has done nothing of the sort, and then ensure that each individual adherent is also treated as evil.
In earlier posts I was debating with a fellow about the Muslim rape rate, but I would not see an individual Muslim and say “he’s an evil rapist!” An adherent to an evil ideology, perhaps. But like C.S. Lewis tells us, he may serve Aslan truly, and only invoke the name of Tash. I have no way of knowing. That doesn’t mean I want to countenance large-scale Muslim immigration, mind you. But there it is, the separation of individual and ideology.
It is my observation that Left-wing groups are particularly prone to this, though it’s not entirely absent on the right either, mind you. Leftism has a tendency to elevate the group ahead of the individuals, and in so doing is at particular risk of denying the worth of the individual entirely. Once the group is established as the highest priority, it is not long before individuals are sacrificed in the name of the group, in order to make it “better” and “more pure.”
The Socialist Utopia is just a few hundred million bodies away… That went on for a century and went nowhere.