The always interesting Pat Richardson over at Otherwhere Gazette has it nailed:
We hold these truths to be self-evident: That people *like* to read, and hear and watch Stories.
That Story should come before Message, but message is okay if that floats your boat.
That Books which put Message before Story are fine too, even if boring and tedious and pedantic. .
That for Freedom of Speech (and Written Word) to be free, that Freedom must be sacrosanct, nothing is off limits, nothing is too offensive
That Freedom of Speech does not mean freedom not to be Offended, nor to impose your Offense on behalf of others.
That Freedom of Speech comes with consequences and others may Consequence your nose if you are too offensive.
That Writers must be free to write what they please and that no one has the right to tell them they may not or should not.
That likewise Readers have a right to read whatever they damn-well please and no one may say them nay.
That anyone who likes Science Fiction – written Word, spoken Word or Dramatic Presentation – is a Science Fiction Fan.
This declaration is the manifesto of Sad Puppies and its rather more vociferous cousin Rabid Puppies. It’s a statement of what writing and reading should be about, and frankly, it’s rather sad that the traditional publishing industry has twisted our favored genre so much that any of this needs to be said.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident”. They should be, but if they really were, we wouldn’t need to state them. And yes, the echo of the Declaration of Independence is deliberate. This is a declaration of authorial and readerly independence.
“That people like to read, and hear and watch Stories.” It should be obvious but the screams and the misdirection and the lies coming from the anti-sad-puppy side of the fence indicates that a hell of a lot of people haven’t figured this out.
“That Story should come before Message, but message is okay if that floats your boat.” Well, duh. Without a story, all you have is a lecture or a sermon. If the message overwhelms the story it gets boring: ideally any message emerges organically from the characters and plot, it doesn’t jump out at quiet moments and thwap you between the eyes.
“That Books which put Message before Story are fine too, even if boring and tedious and pedantic.” Absolutely. There are enough potential readers out there that literally anything could have an audience. Sad Puppies just finds it rather astonishing that this is the only kind of book that’s been winning major awards in the last ten to twenty years, since there are so many other kinds of book which so many other people enjoy. I should mention that you can, for “message” read “Marxist politics” and there’ll be no material difference in the outcome. Which, if you’re the kind of person who likes Marxist politics is all well and good until the moment you start trying to add to the many millions of corpses that poisonous ideology has produced (and all in a hundred years or so, too. Makes the Religion of Peace look like pikers).
“That for Freedom of Speech (and Written Word) to be free, that Freedom must be sacrosanct, nothing is off limits, nothing is too offensive” That does mean exactly what it says. There is no such thing as partial freedom of speech or written word. It’s a bit like being partially pregnant. When a person can be fined or jailed for saying something that person’s speech is not free.
“That Freedom of Speech does not mean freedom not to be Offended, nor to impose your Offense on behalf of others.” Again, this should be bloody obvious, but apparently there are a lot of people out there who prefer to be coddled and protected from anything that might possibly be the teensiest bit offensive. Mature adults are capable of dealing with being offended without killing the person who offended them or trying to have whatever they find offensive banned. Or blocking whatever they find offensive from being published.
“That Freedom of Speech comes with consequences and others may Consequence your nose if you are too offensive.” This is the human interaction form of Newtonian physics: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The natural consequence of being deliberately and excessively offensive is getting your nose physically or virtually bloodied. It is not having your livelihood destroyed, being hounded from your employment, or having masked bandits shoot up your workplace and murder your workmates and a number of bystanders. Those are cases of children in adult bodies throwing tantrums over something they don’t like.
“That Writers must be free to write what they please and that no one has the right to tell them they may not or should not.” I could say this should be obvious again, but really, that’s why we hold these to be self-evident. If I want to write and publish a lengthy discourse on the moral imperatives of hanging the loo paper with the end facing in, that’s my choice (and given what I said above, somebody would probably buy it if I ever did go crazy enough to do this).
“That likewise Readers have a right to read whatever they damn-well please and no one may say them nay.” So anyone who wants to buy the loo paper screed is welcome to do so. This also implies rather strongly that it’s flat out rude to ridicule or belittle anyone over their reading taste. If someone likes what traditional publishing is selling, good luck to them. If someone prefers Baen and independent books, good luck to them. Just don’t try to tell anyone you’re a better person because of your reading tastes. You aren’t. Better personhood comes from what you do, not what you read.
“That anyone who likes Science Fiction – written Word, spoken Word or Dramatic Presentation – is a Science Fiction Fan.” Apparently one is not a “true fan” unless one adheres to some ancient musty pile of fertilizer – at least according to some. Honestly, you’re a fan if you like it. It doesn’t matter what form of it you like, you’re a fan.
This is what Sad Puppies is all about.