Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Puppies in the heartland

After three conventions in five months - in Kansas City, Houston, and Oklahoma City - I have to say I have not seen any animosity against the Sad Puppies effort, and in fact, many statements of support.

The Puppy Kickers would have you think that if you are a Sad Puppy and you go out in public, people will spontaneously attack you in righteous indignation. The fact is, the s-f literary establishment is cliquish and, while the Puppy Kickers have been feeding each others' nutty outrage (nutrage?), most fans don't care as much about the Hugos as they do, and many fans have over the years noticed the social inbreeding and the tendency to ostracize anyone who doesn't fit into their narrow political parameters. I've seen and heard many fans express satisfaction that someone has stuck it to the snobs.

The leading lights in literary s-f are on a political spectrum with Obama on the right and extending God knows where to the left. And as for God, forget it. Any professions of faith get you branded an idiot at best, usually a bigot. The characterization by Tor Editor Irene Gallo of the Sad Puppies as neo-nazis, homophobes and racists is pretty much the party line.

There are a lot of Christians and Republicans between the west bank of the Hudson and San Francisco, but these people don't seem to know it. The Puppy Kickers are scattered all across the U.S. - John Scalzi lives in Ohio, George R.R. Martin in New Mexico - but let's face it, wherever they live is a little suburb of the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

In the places I have been this summer, the fans - if not people of faith and Republicans themselves - know people who are and have friends who are, and they don't have that visceral hatred towards the average American that the Puppy Kickers have. If the U.S. had a parliament instead of a Congress, we'd have a Republican Prime Minister. As someone who's followed politics both personally and professionally for as long as I have. I know the only reason the Democratic Party gets as many votes as it does is the relentless ballot box stuffing in the big cities. Most Americans vote Republican.

Most people also identify themselves with some religion. But it seems the Puppy Kickers don't seem to know anyone who goes to a church, mosque or synagogue, or who votes Republican. Being privileged by birth, wealth, or political correctness, the Puppy Kickers see no reason to be fair or care about the conditions that led to the slapdash backlash against their cliquishness.

The assertion the elites didn't orchestrate efforts to nominate certain works each year is specious. A friend asked me at one of my recent conventions if I think there is a blacklist against aspiring authors. I told it it wasn't necessary, the opinion leaders are so uniform in their outlook any formal list or slate was unneeded. For the last few years, all I had to do was look to see what Scalzi, Jim Hines, Rachel Swirsky and Mary Robinette Kowal was blogging about to know what was going to be on the Nebula and Hugo ballot.

The fans in the heartland know and recognize the narrow base of social acceptance in literary science fiction and most are happy to see some backlash against it. Fandom remains open and accepting of all types of people in a way that literary s-f left a number of years ago.

The Puppy Kickers cite well-known authors who are known conservatives - Mike Resnick and Larry Niven are two - but they came up through the ranks years ago. People like Larry Corriea and Brad Torgersen have entered the field in the past ten years, and have seen and felt first-hand the snubs and insults of the snobs. Both were nominated for the Campbell Award for Best new writer in their first year of eligibility. They didn't win. Now, that award allows you two years of eligibility, and over the years many writers have has two shots at winning - but neither Larry nor Brad were even nominated in their second years of eligibility.

The Puppy Kickers would assert it's because as people got to know them better, they realized they sucked as authors. I suspect it's more likely they were shunted aside because they do not conceal their Mormon faith.

In 2012, when Mitt Romney was the Republican nominee for president, most of the leading lights in the s-f  literary world combined their hatred for people of faith with their hatred for Republicans by attacking Romney in the most vile language. Quite frankly, I personally believe there are some things you should never say to or about people, regardless of the subject. In light of the attacks on Romney, is it any wonder all the Mormon s-f writers went off the reservation? It's almost a human rights issue - "you can't say that about one of my coreligionists.

I doubt most of the Puppy Kickers have any Christian friends, and certainly no Mormons. But here in Middle America there are plenty of Christians, Mormons, and even - as Jay Lake used to say - "low church atheists" - people who don't believe in the supernatural, but, like Jay, didn't mind if you needed a faith.

I remember when Jay said the source of so much ill feeling were the "high church atheists" - people who didn't believe in God, and wanted to stamp out your religion, too. Jay was a smart man and a nice guy.

As I have made the convention circuit, I have been heartened by the many people who have been kind and supportive of my work, and either supportive or tolerant of the Sad Puppies effort. It reminds me that most people are thoughtful and considerate human beings, and the internet is a tool that is - like the machinery left behind by the Krel as depicted in the s-f classic movie "Forbidden Planet" - letting the darkest and worst innermost aspects of human nature loose upon the land.


  1. Anonymous6:30 AM

    I am confused. Surely both Torgersen and Corriea were nominated in their second year of eligibility, not their first? And no, they didn't win, but I wouldn't see that as evidence of a conspiracy. Corriea for example lost out to Lev Grossman, which I don't find surprising. Given the number of new authors entering the field every year, being nominated at all is quite an honour.
    Meanwhile, I agree that broadening the base of fandom can only be a good thing.
    John Kendon

  2. Anonymous7:57 AM

    Brandon Sanderson is a Mormon, and he seems to be doing just fine in SFF.

    Really, what does it say about your thought process if, to prove that fans aren't bigoted against Mormons, Correia and Torgersen being nominated (being considered one of the best five new writers) isn't enough, and they'd have to *win*?

    Fans who aren't Puppies aren't organized and don't get marching orders or anything, but it's hard to imagine very many of us don't have any Christian friends--Christians are 80% of the US population, and a large percentage of the population in most of the countries from which WorldCon draws. Furthermore, many fans, including many of the fans the Puppies hate most, *are* Christian. They just love their neighbors instead of enforcing sexual purity on people, since those values aren't particularly compatible.


  3. I'm a Catholic, went to 8 grades of Catholic school, was born and raised in a small town in Central Illinois (small = population 3,000) and live in DuPage county, the heart of the Republican party of Illinois. I work, play and do volunteer work with rooms full of conservative Republican churchgoers.

    I am not against you, or Larry, or Brad, because of religion or political view. I am upset that Brad and Larry got together in some room, picked a slate of largely mediocre works, many, such as "Wisdom from my Internet," selected specifically for political reasons, and used their blog to jam them into the Hugo ballot to the exception of all other stuff.

    You and I were both at ConQuest, and apparently you didn't see the standing-room-only crowd at the "what's the problem with the Hugos" panel. You also apparently did not take the opportunity to talk to Dave McCarty, Chicon 7 chair and current Hugo ballot-wrangler. He's no anti-religious nut or literary maven. He's a dude from flyover Chicago who likes SF.

    I sincerely hope, Lou, that you please remove the blinders from your eyes and talk to the fans on the other side of this.

  4. Anonymous9:03 AM

    Sanderson is doing better than “just fine”: in 2013, his novella “The Emperor’s Soul” won the Hugo and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. He is the co-host of the “Writing Excuses” podcast, which also won a Hugo in 2013.

  5. Anonymous1:25 PM

    Get real. Of course Puppy Kickers have Christian friends and family, also Budist, pagan and Shinto. Half my relatives are in fact Mormon, my dad being from Utah. The other half are Texas Baptists. Most of us never did and still don't care about your religion or mundane politics. The slate's the problem and that Puppies keep trying to make themselves victims of other prejudices shows that they know slating is just wrong and indefensible.

    If No Award takes a lot of the Hugo categories I'm sure Puppies will whine. For myself there will be no conflict between suppressing slating and voting after reading the nominations. Most of it is just badly written.

  6. I have a problem with citing being nominated for one of science fiction's highest awards, and saying that because someone was nominated ONCE for it, but not TWICE, that this is evidence of bias or conspiracy.

    Were David Louis Edelman, Joe Abercrombie, Jon Armstrong (2008), Aliette de Bodard, Felix Gilman, Tony Pi, Gord Sellar (2009), Lezli Robyn, Gail Carriger (2010), Lauren Beukes, Dan Wells (2011), Karen Lord (2012), Zen Cho, Chuck Wendig (2003), and Ramez Naam 92014) also a victim of this conspiracy? You do realize it's possible to think someone's a good writer but think their work is worthy of one Campbell nomination, but not two?

    Are you now asserting that the reason for Sad Puppies 3 was because some writers said some unkind things about the presidential candidate you supported for an election that was three years ago? Seriously?

    Rachel Swirsky's livejournal from 2013-2014 got 2-3 comments per entry at most, so I find it difficult to believe she was influencing -anyone.- I can only assume you threw her name in there because Sarah Hoyt hated her story (by a curious coincidence, Sarah Hoyt just missed getting a Hugo nomination for short story in 2014, the year Dinosaur got nominated.)

    The rest of this post is just bizarre and disappointing ad hominem.


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