I spent today, with other Islander friends, Aboriginal and otherwise, taking my part a traditional hunting practice that goes back oh, maybe 30 000 years. “Birdin’“ – collecting the large chicks of Short-tailed Shearwaters (which, for the record, makes more ecological sense than shooting or trapping adult birds, and is certainly less cruel than commercial chicken farming). It involves sticking your hand – really fast, down a burrow, and catching the bird before its sharp beak slices you or claws scratch your hands.
You can’t wear gloves, because the holes are also the favorite homes of Australian tiger snakes and copperheads (also partial to muttonbirds). The only way you can tell what you’re going to find in the hole is the temperature. Oh, and as the hole is much deeper than your arm is long you have put your hand in (and reach the decision on what you might find in there) really, really fast. There are islands without the snakes. This wasn’t one of them.
So I spent my day lying in dirt and birdshit, sticking my hands into holes that could harbor something that will cause me intense pain, and could very easily kill me. It’s our food, and it’s what islanders do. No one cares if you don’t. But you’ll never really be one of them if you don’t. Oh yeah, for my feminist readers, it’s a terribly sexist thing. I’ve yet to see a female birder. Not that there’s anything or anyone stopping them, and they usually come along and help with cleaning. It’s filthy, dangerous, hard work. A thing the poor and aboriginal (sometimes the same thing) did. For us it still is a fairly important part of our food. Generally, these days, it’s not life and death, but it used to be, and is still respected and, yes, loved for that. Fresh it was food, salted down food in winter, the oil, and fat and down all used. Besides if you’re an islander, nothing, but nothing, ever tastes quite like muttonbird. Well, the best approximation is chicken (if you’re hungry enough) crossed with a strong flavored sardine. One of the guys in RSL (Returned Serviceman’s League, of which I am a proud member) used to get muttonbirds sent to him in Vietnam in biscuit tins of salt. Some of my birds are going as gifts to a couple of old folk, who are just too old to do it anymore, and don’t have younger family to provide. They’ll probably get a fair number from various people, because that’s how we work here.
I’m telling this story for a few reasons. Among them was the surprise of finding I have been nominated for a Hugo the Best Fan Writer for my writing here on MAD GENIUS CLUB. You may remember Cedar Sanderson and Amanda Green were also on the “Sad Puppies” and “Rabid Puppies” suggested slate of possible noms. You probably also remember that I said I was flattered and amused (if not you can look it up) but I’m an old pro, and I thought it was an award to encourage fans. Turns out I was wrong and there is a long history of the award going to established authors, even last year going to fairly dodgy revisionist history. Yes, women have always gone birdin’ too.
Anyway, I thought I was out of it, and encouraged folk to vote Cedar and Amanda. On account, I gather, of them being Mormon men, and white and Hetero… This has come as a severe shock to Sanford Begley who has discovered he must be gay. And Mormon. (for those of you struggling to follow this puzzling piece, furious ‘real fans’ (we’re fake fans, on account, it seems of failing the ideological purity test. Ask Mike Glyer for your personal inquisition) have informed us that Sad Puppies is entirely a White, Male, Mormon hetero plot. And as Sanford is engaged to be married to one of those ‘Mormon males’ it’s a shame he isn’t on the noms too. We could satisfy all their diversity concerns then. After all we already have the managed to get the most native Americans on the nomination list, evah. Actually, there is a sort of Mormon missionary aspect to it all, but that is merely because degree of politeness in the face of abuse that Brad Torgersen manages.
So I was actually very sad (just like puppies) when Theresa Nielsen-Hayden and her sycophants over on “Making Light” – you know, the hangout of “Requires Hate” and other nice people. (“making light”? by squalling for the government to pay for an electrician to change the bulb, I’d guess. They seem to spend a lot of time in dark, shrieking.) started issuing threats and abuse to SP3 and RP nominees before the final nomination list was released. Among the kind thing said by these sweet people was that we SP supporters were rich white boys. Boys, we are informed, not men.
This is what the hands of your typical rich white boy looks like after a hard day at the cocktail bar, oppressing women and minorities. (you can click on the picture to actually see it larger) Also notice the lounge lizard suit and designer stubble. Just thought you’d like to know. I wonder what working men’s hands would look like? Actually, the odd thing about the SP crowd is just how many of them DON’T (as the dahlings of Making Light seem to) come from white-bread academia. Portuguese dairy farmers, ex-army NCO’s, Alaskan homesteaders, even blokes like me who grew up around commercial fishing boats. It isn’t necessary for writing, of course, but it does mean they’re writing from experience of the real thing. If your experience of the world is white-bread suburbia, and an East Coast Liberal College, where you now teach creative writing, maybe you’re not understanding the vast bulk of potential readers too well.
We were warned that the wrath of the important people in SF. When this comes from a major (ex) editor, wife of a major powerful editor at Tor, who has the support of all of the Traditional Publishing establishment it’s a real, credible ‘you’ll never work in this town again’ threat. It is plain and simple intimidation. Open, cut-and-dried bullying. Power being abused… as it has been for a long, long time.
Brad Torgersen came in for the lion’s share of disgusting abuse from a petulant ‘making light’ – How dare he put people on his slate without getting their permission first? (Brad hadn’t – by accident, asked a couple of people)
Just think about this slowly for a minute.
WHY should it be necessary to tell someone that you’re going to recommend their work be considered as a nomination? What? You want me to ask the author if I can recommend his book or story? Have you lost your mind? It happens thousands of times. Examples abound. No-one ever asked permission. You shouldn’t be able to force them to put it up… or take it down. THEY DON’T NEED YOUR PERMISSION. GOT IT? Except… somehow Brad and Sad Puppies were an exception. Let’s face it: there is only one possible reason for this ‘outrage’. Our dear little friends at ‘Making Light’ were planning to sabotage and attack the authors on that list – planning in other words to abuse power. People should know they’re in danger of ‘being tainted’, being attacked, being shunned…
Having their careers destroyed.
Nice people, ‘Making Light’.
I was quite pissed off I’d told SP3 and RP that I didn’t want to be on the slate.
EDITED FOR CLARITY: I put the fact that I felt there were better more deserving people to target (such as my co-writers Amanda and Cedar) up ON MAD GENIUS CLUB. I did not contact either SP or RP organizers. They in no way ignored my request. I was in no way at all shamed or upset by being on the list. Got it, jackasses? No you can’t use it to bully Brad Torgersen. I can’t force you to quote me, any more than I could force Brad to read that on MGC or act on it, but I sure as hell will rub your noses in this if you try.
I don’t take to bullying well. I’m usually pretty easy going, but a behemoth picking on little guys infuriates and disgusts me (which is what this is. Tor is still the biggest, most powerful traditional sf publishing house at present. They wield a great deal of power and influence. They can (and have in the past) destroy and make careers.) It rubs every hair on my very hairy head the wrong way, which gave me some bad hair days, poor me.
And then it got worse. We had some joker called Steve Davidson, whose total contribution to sf seems to have been purchasing the IP address for ‘Amazing Stories’ and then emptying his bowels onto it, issuing threats and ultimatum to authors that if they didn’t renounce SP3 they’d be vewwy vewwy sorry.
At which point I was furious that I couldn’t tell Steve Davidson to shove his head where the sun don’t shine* and to take the Hempress of Colney ‘atch with him and a bucket of abrasive to make a joyous trip for all of them. Because I’m screwed if I take orders from either of them or their little friends. And if I can deal with sticking my hand down a hole that could have a deadly snake in it, I’d cope with the risks of a mere bunch of Traditional Publishing Establishment vipers.
And then, of course came two surprises with the announcement of Hugo Award Shortlist of Nominees.
The first and important one.
1) HOW DID THEY KNOW?
2) What the hell was my name doing there?
Let’s just think about that first one. How did TNH know it was Sad Puppies getting so many Noms…in advance? Let alone Steve Davidson, whoever he is. Had someone on the Hugo committee leaked this information? That would be seriously unethical. Damningly so, deserving of expulsion from the organization, and public shaming and an apology. So just how else DID they know? How would you know, beforehand, just what is going on?
Let’s apply Occam’s razor. The matter needs a shave…
There are only two possibilities. A) Someone in the Hugos committee leaked. B) They knew, somehow, perhaps by telepathy or arcane magic if not by the collusion they deny, that various people they expected to be there, hadn’t got a call/e-mail letting them know they’d been shortlisted on the final nominations.
Now, keep in mind that’s a LOT of possible Nominations to contact/be contacted you and say “I didn’t get a call”, so short of telepathy or magic… the only way you could contact the possible nominations you expected, would be to know who hell they were. And the only way you could know that was if a fairly large number of you had agreed to nominate such-and-such.
So I guess there is the smoking gun. We know, besides the numbers Vox Day provides here and here, just which group must have been block voting. That they did so all without organizing and communicating in private is of course possible. Just very, very unlikely. Of course, if they’re innocent, they can tell us who on the Hugo Committee told them.
Of then we come the point 2. The first I knew of it was people congratulating me. I eventually sent an e-mail to the Sasquan Hugo organizers who loftily informed me that the contact form on my web-page ‘was the only address/method that we could find.’ (Look. It is not even in the spam box. Slip ups happen.) Which has to make you laugh, as I have two publishers they could have contacted, I’m on facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and you know, there is this site we – Cedar, Amanda, and myself are up for the award for writing on, let alone asking Cedar or Amanda for my address or to get me to contact them. Oh and there are runners with cleft sticks. Look. It’s not important. Like Larry, I’ve been accused of ‘wanting a Hugo’. If I’d known in advance – prior to the attempts to bully the SP3 nominees… I’d have stepped down. Now I can’t, because I don’t give way to this sort of behavior. So if you just missed nomination – you know who thank for not getting in.
We have to stand up to them. SF needs to break this culture of bullying, of overt abuse of power. We need SF to go back to being what people read because they love reading it, not because some bunch of self-elected ‘elite’ says it will be good for them. Stuff them. They couldn’t put their arms down a muttonbird hole to save their lives.
Not that I want it. Which is why right now I am going to encourage you to vote for Cedar or Amanda. We need more Mormon men winning the Hugo. They deserve it more than me anyway. But do apply the fact that messages don’t get through to question 1.
I am, however, just wanting all of you, Moshe Feder, Patrick Neilsen Hayden, – (as present Tor editors –is this company policy or your private initiative?) issuing threats and abuse (HOW DID YOU KNOW?) and TNH who issued this charming little threat: “Which is to say, it violates a lot of people’s sense of how one ought to behave, and if you do it you’ll incur widespread disapproval. Prepare to deal.” (Who will rid you of these tempestuous priests, your Hempressness?)
To all of you, to Steve Davidson, and all of your camp followers…
Bring it on.
BRING IT ON.
BRING. IT. ON.
Let’s see. You’re not going to buy my books? Gee that should make… zero difference to my bottom line.
You’re going to tell your friends not buy my books? You mean you have friends? – I mean outside your circle-jerk who would rather die than buy them anyway?
You’re going to give me no reviews? What a change.
You’re going to badmouth and lie me as often as possible and at your usual Requires Hate level vile? Children, I grew up in a commercial fishing harbor. I was an Army NCO. You make me laugh. And besides the fact bad publicity is still more than anyone but your clique of little pets got, what else is new?
You’re going to never publish me? Gee, you never did, and never would have, because I’m not one of your kiss-up sycophants.
You’re going to shun me? Never invite me to your conferences? Oh be still my beating heart. Never to see WisCon…
I’m quivering in my boots. Mind you it could be because I got wet bringing the boat in and I went straight to write this and I’m bloody cold by now. Maybe you’d like to wish me the sniffles? That might work!
And now let’s talk about something you jackasses might need to “prepare to deal”.
You’re a tiny, unpleasant, arrogant echo-chamber of elitist losers who have almost no contact with the real world. That’s the real world that actually buys most books.
If we start to respond in kind… we still do buy the loud anti-puppies authors. We buy books published by Tor. We haven’t… yet, resorted to your petulant nonsense. And you can’t survive it, if it happens. In truth your little inner circle is tiny. Look at the demographics of the country. A huge proportion of the audience you sell to have reason, good reason, to say “Why the hell should I buy a book from someone who plainly despises me, despises my views, my culture, and increasingly offers me a lecture on how bad I am instead of a good story. There are other books.”
And that is something you’re not prepared to deal with.
It’s _our_ community you need to fit into. Our traditions and culture you need to show some respect for. You’re the ones who need to learn to stick your hands down a burrow to be accepted.
We don’t actually have to listen and obey.
And I for one, am not going to.
*Slice. Where the monkey keeps his nuts. As a monkey I should know