Battlers

“Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone.
Kindness in another’s trouble,
Courage in your own.”
Adam Lindsay Gordon

If there’s one thing that’s central to Australia, my upbringing in South Africa, and the books I love, it’s the battler.

The guy who is just too damn obstinate, brave, hell, maybe even stupid to accept he’s beaten. Who takes on odds fifty or fifty thousand to one and…

Probably gets knocked flat. And gets up again and tries again. It’s a frontier thing, I think. Kowtowing to authority (no matter who that authority is) is good for civilized long settled places, crowded environments. Out where I am at home, and among people still close to that, authority is product of respect, which needs be earned, and that you keep up earning it. Expecting people to pull their weight, handle their own trouble, and, yep, be there when other people take a hammering to lend a hand.

It’s not about winning (or losing). It’s about the battle and how you fight that defines the heroes and the villains. For Australians and New Zealanders, that’s almost defined by Gallipoli (and with Anzac Day coming up on Saturday, it’s much in my mind.).

And the average battler hasn’t got much, but he’s got a sense of humor, and the little bastard just won’t stay down. A man who fought his own way up… or even started with a few advantages and fought up from that, he’s a winner. Even if he dies broke and by his own hand.

Some of the Americans of my acquaintance seem to see things the same way. Others: One of the big cultural differences seems to be that winning (or being rich, powerful – the markers of winning in a large group, where otherwise they might not know you were a winner) is more important. Even if you did nothing but inherit that money or get your success handed to you on a platter, you’re still a hero to them. For myself, speaking as an ignorant outsider, looking in, I see this rooted in the East Coast urbanites – where kowtowing and accepting the dictates authority fit in with ‘long civilized, crowded environments’. I’m – like most sf/fantasy writers, mildly nuts (all right. Completely nuts. More than two fruitcakes and a healthy snack-pack) – and my particular insanity is that primates don’t do well in too crowded environments. Behavior you’d never see in the wild — from cannibalism to baby-killing happens when you pack monkeys too closely, even if they have plenty of food and the right temperature to thrive. What we – monkeys like me, and humans in particular are really, really good at is thriving in new and harsh environments, which your (not my) hairlessness and lack of skill at brachiating can make pretty tough. You could almost think humans were designed to be a colonist species… and biologist terms that’s what they are. Generalists, who don’t climb as well as well as monkeys, but run faster. Don’t run as fast as antelope, but keep it up for longer. Don’t bite as well as leopards but throw rocks and sticks better etc. And mostly, think. Question, test limits, explore. Exhibit curiosity.
Don’t just accept.

And yeah, when I start looking at books I identify with, authors I want to read again… those are actually the key features. (I honestly don’t care what color, sex or who they enjoy having sex with, my heroes are. If that becomes what the book is about, rather than how that individual battles those or other problems, you’ve lost me. I don’t care how good your prose is or how wonderful someone else thinks you are. Even Locus or your mummy.)

Which is worth keeping in mind when you’re writing. Well, if you’re writing for jokers like me.

It’s been interesting to see how this has spun in the little circus that has been the Hugo Awards this year. The big guys, Nielsen Hayden, Stross, GRRM, Scalzi – you know wealthy, powerful white men who have won huge numbers of Hugo Nominations and indeed awards, are up in arms because some rag-tag bunch of uppity little battlers who’d never been there before, from across the social, political, racial and sexual spectrum got nominated, instead of a narrower group they approve of – including… just by chance, themselves and friends, many of whom who have multiple prior noms and awards. It’s taken away diversity and these nominees want women and ‘PoC’ (‘People of Color’ which bizarrely is not offensive, but ‘Colored People’ is just vile. It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?)to suffer. Of course these rich, powerful white men are feminists and oppose racism. Are they leading the charge because they think white men are just naturally better at it?

Look, all we’ve really got is making fun of the bastards. I feel kind of guilty sometimes because it is so easy, but hell’s teeth, they’ve brought enough weight to bear against us. I’m kind of losing count at the rent-a-hit journalism (a plainly very ethical field, full of honest honorable folk) informing us we’re all rich white men oppressing everyone and winding the clock back. Is it daylight savings over there already?

Still, I’m glad to be learning my place from David Gerrold. I’d never have guessed that I was one of the little people otherwise. I just thought I was a short stroppy little bastard. But yeah, the puppies, nominees, organizers, supporters… we’re little people. Little people have to have decency, honor, play fair and above all play by the rules. Any possible deviation from the above is cause for them to be pushed into outer darkness, deprived of work, tarred with every libel and possibly to be sentenced to reading the Guardian or NYT until their eyes bleed (it doesn’t take long). Important people – like David Gerrold, and Patrick Nielsen Hayden aren’t little people. They’re important. Different. Special. So David can – while he’s going to be MC-ing the awards — attempt to manipulate and bias voting against certain nominees, and that’s just fine. If our positions were reversed I’d be the scum of the earth for abusing my position, but it’s just fine if you’re not a little person. So long as you little people understand your place it’ll all be wonderful. For David anyway. And Patrick, while the nominees are under embargo, will virulently deride the fact that the puppies did something legal… but just ungenteel and vilely unacceptable and deserving any abuse anyone feels like – in the same post as being completely unconcerned about giving away that he knew the names of the non-puppies Novel noms, and that the puppies had got three novel noms. That’s breaking the rules, the people who informed him broke the rules, and in case you hadn’t worked it out either the Hugo administrators had to have leaked (against the rules, and unfair, but the fact he stated 3 Puppies not 4 says they probably weren’t guilty) or he had to know who he expected to get nominated, have them tell him they hadn’t (unethical), and know that no one else had a chance. Curiously, because he’s not a little person none of his sycophants have asked him he could know, or criticized his unethical behavior. But don’t blame them, guys. They’re not stupid like me. They know their place and that rules and decent behavior are for little people. That’s why on ‘Making Light’ someone encouraged people to post fake derogatory reviews on Amazon for Puppy nominees. Because you can do that if you’re not a little person. And sure enough, regulars from there and Jim Hines Blog set off to do as they were instructed. But it’s Okay, they were just targeting little people.

Grin. If I keep shrinking at this rate I’ll be a Nome. “I reckon… I reckon we should eat his rat.” (Thanks Sir Pterry).

And GRRM wants us to have a separate but equal Military sf Hugo award. To make us feel included. I wonder if we’ll get our own water fountains too. You have to laugh.

But the heat did get too much for some of the nominees. Marko Kloos and Annie Bellet withdrew. Look, don’t blame them. It’s been really hard standing up to the stream of libels, abuse and constant pressure from people who don’t seem to regard us, or our families as human. We know that – given their influence (they can get major newspapers across the world to spit bile, they still control at least 80% of traditional publishing, and majorly distribution, most of review and publicity) they can trash careers. They could well make someone commit suicide, wreck marriages and hurt children. They’re trying. And they’ll dance celebrate doing so. It’s been telling that the leadership (and followers) of the Puppies – Sad and Rabid… have all shown “Kindness in another’s trouble” coming out strongly against any form of punishment or even criticism of Kloos and Bellet. It stands like stone – especially when contrasted Patrick Nielsen Hayden who is happy to leave the Hugo Administrators (or the editors and/or authors Leckie and Addison (Monette)) to be assumed possibly guilty of misconduct rather be a man of integrity and honor. If he said just how he knew who the Novel category noms were when they were under embargo, it would clear the names of the innocent. He’s not worried about their trouble. They’re little people. And how he’s dealt with his own… well, he informed us (in comments under a post by David Gerrold – who was showing us how to be a non-partisan statesman (by important people rules) that Tor’s sales were up. Which makes Publisher’s Weekly and Bookscan liars too (they say the SF Trad sales are down. A lot. Do you think Tor are different? Really?), alongside Correia, Torgersen and Vox Day (by important people rules). Odd, isn’t it, that even the man they accuse of being the great Satan behaved in a manner an order of magnitude more honorably. I don’t think Vox Day could get better recruiting sergeants than these guys if he paid them a thousand bucks a person they sent his way.

I’m adding my own, small voice to that (remember I’m nome size. One of the little people). Don’t take it out on Tor Books authors in general. Many authors are battlers too, and it’s hard to find a trad publisher. It’s very intimidating and difficult to strike out on your own, and go independent. Yes, there are few authors who have been loud and angry at the very existence of the puppies. Who told us that we’re all racist sexist Mormon men and that those of you voted for them are stupid rednecks. Shrug. That’s them. You know who those are. But please leave the rest to write books and survive as best as they can. Don’t take it out on Kloos and Bellet. Let them be. It’s a war. Some people fall. When you’re on target, you absorb a lot of flak.

What you need to do instead is nurture and support the living. Join Sasquan if you can afford it, and make your voice heard. Yes, you’re only a ‘little person’ like me. But a vote is a vote… and it’s no smaller than anyone else’s vote.

If, like me (you know, I’ve been told I’m one of those rich white frat boys, not a battler) Forty bucks is just too much to justify taking out of the family budget. (I’m not whinging: We live well, there’s just not a lot of cash spare right now. It’s my target when the Smashwords payment comes in.) and you want to support MGC Nominees you could consider buying an e-book from one of us.
From Cedar

Amanda

And Moi. I’ve got a new one – a novella -56 pages out today. The picture’s a link.

I hope next year you’ll all consider putting it up for a Hugo. Nah, I don’t think it’s Zelazny or what I would consider deserving nom winning material (okay it’s better than some in the last few years, but set me a challenge, guys. ‘If you were a Stegosaurus’ isn’t my idea of entertainment. I’m at least entertainment. For me.) but it has the sheer delight of poking ‘Important people’ in the nether regions with a really sharp stick. From below, of course. With puns, and mockery. It’s about as politically incorrect as is possible in one story, while actually treating everyone (except possibly bankers), as humans. Well. undead. Um. As individuals to be judged on their merits. And height.

Yeah, the hero is a dwarf. A little person.

And seriously, I’ve been at the book-or-meal situation. If that’s pushing the boat too far, please just support us, let us know. It all helps.

Of course if you love the behavior of important people and can’t afford to support Sasquan, buy their books. They’re a lot more expensive. But they’re important. They can and will do their best to rid you of those troublesome battlers.

But will they stand like stone?

68 Comments

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68 responses to “Battlers

  1. I’m too distractable to play human statue. But I’m not budging.

  2. David Lang

    you will find a lot of “battlers” in westerns. The US has a history of admiring and supporting “Battlers”, it’s the east coast crowd that cares what you have, not how you got it.

  3. I drew a line in the sand when the libeled Larry and Brad. I’m not a nominee, but I’ve got everyone’s back. 🙂

    And buying people’s books is an awesome way to show support. Especially for non-nominees who are fighting this battle. For nominees, buy their books AND vote for them, if at all possible. 😀

    • Yeah the stream of abuse aimed at Brad’s wife on Making Light… someone said stop please, but at least one guy went right on – and no one said a word. Nice people.

      And for that kind of support they get some reading matter. 🙂

      • Yeah. Really classy.

        And WE are expected to be nice. Too bad for them that I see no reason to play by their rules.

      • Reziac

        Yeah, that was the tipping point. Until then I was willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, tho I’d already noticed which side routinely lied about the other.

  4. Eleanor

    Great post. Thank you.

  5. emily61

    I always look forward to reading your columns Dr. Freer.

  6. Well I for one am a redneck. And I’m damn proud of it.

  7. The promo pictures and links aren’t showing up. I’m guessing that Cedar’s book is Dragon Noir, but go through Sarah’s Amazon link to get it.

    • That’s odd. They showed up fine for me. :/

    • They don’t show up for me, that’s because I have adblock plus installed. I get around this on my posts by using the Amazon insert plus direct links in titles. *shrug* it’s a pain, but ABP is useful elsewhere (like facebook).

    • adblocker. Should I just put straight links?

      • Stephen Gradijan

        I suggest that somewhere near the top of the MGC home page that y’all put up a phrase saying something like, “Please consider adjusting your adblock settings so that you can see everything in our posts. Most of the time this won’t matter, but occasionally we use ads which are images for our books, and you will miss out (as will we!) if you do otherwise”.

  8. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    We the “little people.”

  9. Dave. . .

    If we didn’t have your back, in this, or anything else. . . we wouldn’t be friends.

    As for the big people: may they conduct an improbable reproductive act with avian pastry. . .

    • Keith, I’m such an obstinate bastard, that I’d be standing no matter what. But, yeah. It’s good to know we have some support.

      • I get VERY tired, particularly when ill informed people not of the left think that the rabid left MUST be telling the truth about SP, because, after all, they’re such prestigious artistes and all.
        I get heartbroken when writers I admire come out against us by believing calumnies and rumors.
        Thing is, the more tired I am the less I’ll budge. And the heartbreak just makes me mad. Because I remember when these people were sane, and they had no business going nuts just because it was convenient.
        So, I’m standing. All my best buddies are on this side, anyway, and one doesn’t leave a buddy in the lurch.
        Because I’m not on the ballot I could shrug off all this thing, but seeing the crap thrown at Larry and Brad, how could I let them stand alone?

    • Reziac

      [squint] I think I’d pay to see that.

  10. That Li’l Ole Band From Texas, ZZ Top, has got MY back in the review I did of Dave’s new novella. There was just no way that I could communicate the depth and breadth of his wordplay without help.
    http://habakkuk21.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-bolg-and-beautiful-by-dave-freer.html

  11. You know, it wouldn’t hurt for some of you guys to go endorse the reviews I make on Amazon. I’ve been stuck in the 60Ks for a month now, after climbing up from the 4 millions. I don’t know HOW there rating system works. but I’m just posting away like a chicken rancher, and it seems to have no impact on my ratings. Nit that it means anything, because the page hits on the blog are sky-rocketing, BUT I do believe that if the writers I review are getting ANY benefit from the reviews, maybe that might have an impact if my rating goes up. I don’t know how THAT works, either. Someone told me that Amazon only gives writers a review bump when they hit 50 reviews. Anybody know how that works?

    • Apparently after 50 reviews you are a “real” writer and it is a sign that enough people are buying your books to earn you a place on some of the ads (some forms of Kindle) and a better rank with the alsobot. Although Amazon keeps tweaking their system so I’m not certain precisely how it works at the moment.

    • Please do that, guys.

    • Stephen Gradijan

      Hello Mad Reviewer,

      I just read a couple of your reviews and upvoted them; I will get to others in the coming days (weeks?).

      I don’t *know* how the reviewer rating system works, but I would guess it has something to view with the ratio of people who upvote your reviews compared to people who downvote your reviews.

      Right now you seem to have a 60 of 71 (85%) total of people saying your reviews were “helpful”.

      http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A18OWTDGIZ0W2W/ref=cm_cr_dp_pdp

  12. Arwen

    You have my support for what it’s worth. The nasty, petty, small minded behavior from the puppy hate brigade hasn’t put me off any publishers but it has put me off some people.

    • Arwen, your support is worth far more than that of the highest of their mucketty-mucks. Because at least you’re not just a parrot, but a thinking person.

  13. I need to scold you SJW style. Check your excellent storyteller privilege.

    I am more and more coming to the conclusion that the Hugo crowd is protecting it so jealously because that’s the only thing they have. Their sales are mimicking the Titanic, their cons are getting old, and the gatekeepers they rely on are being eaten by indie.

    Viewed in this light, it seems almost rude to threaten their consolation prize. It’s like telling a retarded kid that he only won the spelling bee, which he is so proud of, because everybody else decided to let him win something for once to encourage him.

    • Ori, when giving the retarded kid the spelling prize (and the maths prize and…) is killing the whole thing, it’s time to face reality. But we could take GRRM’s suggestion and make them feel included with a special category. We could call it the literary Hugos. They can have all the noms and all the prizes.

      • Did you read Eric Flint’s perspective? Basically, he says the field changed so much the Hugos are no longer tenable. There is so much written that nobody knows the entire field the way they used to.

        I tend to agree – modern Hugos are worthless. If you want me to buy your book, don’t tell me you won a Hugo for it. If I don’t know you, show me an endorsement by somebody whose taste I trust. I’d buy a book whose cover said “Tasmanian(1) Monkey Approved” over one that says “Won a Hugo” any day.

        (1) I know you’re not living exactly on Tasmania, but IIRC you’re still in that province.

      • I’m not a battler. My ancestors didn’t survive by battling against the odds, but by not being there when the odds were seriously against them. Maybe that affects my perspective, and is the reason I’m fine with declaring the Hugos dead, and just moving elsewhere.

  14. HEY, MODERATOR!!!
    ‘Sasha Prochenko’ is under suspicion of being one of the pseudonyms in use by Andrew Marsden/clamps. Can we get a source check, please?

  15. I said it earlier in the month: the great peasant revolt (against the Peoples Republic of Science Fiction – the PRSF) will be televised. The mandarins are losing control of the spaces — and the narratives. Hell, they’ve lost control of publishing, period. That was the fulcrum: he who controls the Spice, controls the universe! But thanks to the magic of the intarwebz and Amazon.com, you can become a six or even seven-figure author, and never bend your knee to the Spacing Guild. You just have to be whip-crack good at writing stories, self-promo, and (of course) never give up.

    Commissar Nielsen-Hayden is most unhappy with the situation. Who will tell us what the “good” art is? What will happen to science fiction if TOR.COM is not around to inform us how we’re all homophobic, woman-hating, and terrified of non-Caucasians?

    And David Gerrold . . . well, I hate to poke a finger in the eye of my elder, but Norman Spinrad wrote the far better, much more compelling Star Trek original series episode. “Tribbles” is funny, but “Doomsday” is timeless.

    Back to the mandarins: does it strike anyone else as ironic that all the same people who prided themselves on being “dangerous” in the 1960s and 1970s, now shriek and run at the merest hint of a conservative or libertarian mouse? They cocoon themselves — the old white folk wrapping themselves in the old white flag — and tell stories about how they are inclusive, diverse, and how anyone who disagrees is obviously a racist and a bogeyman. Even us dudes who literally have blood in the game.

    It’s like hundreds of bubble-boy people, suddenly realizing the bubbles are being deflated — by slashes administered from the inside.

    • Angus Trim

      From where I’m sitting they don’t seem to be in retreat. They seem to be bringing out the big guns. The libel on the international rags, GRRM’s posts, demands, and questions. Whyte’s visitation yesterday and today to make demands on the transparency issue. The fake reviews on Amazon etc. Scalzi’s diatribe today.

      And lets not forget the quick drive by trolls. In for a quick “you’re a dirtbag because you associate with Vox.”

      I think that in an off and on fashion, this will go on all through the Hugo awards in Spokane. It’ll start again after that. and we’ll be fighting the same fight next year.

      If someone like Popular Science doesn’t respond to Vox’s letter to retract their lies, then we might see some blood. I suspect that Vox is willing to spend money to actually destroy the other side. If that starts happening, if these publications start bleeding because of what they wrote, then the SJB’s might start getting scared.

      Right now, I think they’re just outraged. My encounter with Mary Robinette Kowal made me realize that many of them see life through a radically different lense than we do. Some of them think they’re in the right. Some of them are true radicals. Those two groups aren’t losing yet.

      As a veteran of a three year internet war {one I lost}, I can tell you that unless you actually can make someone sting, victory will be hard to realize.

      • Angus, we may have more support – or less support. Shrug. I’m a battler. Support is nice. Winning is nice. But I ain’t about to stop fighting.

        • Angus Trim

          Hi Dave

          Situation for you is a little different than it is for some others. It is for me too, much different than a decade ago when I lost.

          Then, I was a popular swordmaker, most of my customer base was on the internet. I had been wronged, and obviously wronged. I started fighting the good fight,on the internet. Initially, I had a lot of support. But a three year fight sapped that support, and the other guys used the same tactics as what you see here.

          I quit. They won. I quit because I had to spend more time making stuff to make machine payments, and less time on the internet. I won a small battle, I got the machinery paid off, but the same night I lost a health battle, I had a decent stroke.

          Today, I’m an ex-swordmaker, a machinist as a contractor, and wannabe writer about to self pub eight novels. I’m not as easy to damage as I was a decade ago.

          I have a taste for a good fight again.

          • Angus, welcome to our ranks :-). Seriously, MGC is intended to be helpful, supportive place for our fellow authors, and I hope you find to be that.

    • Brad, I’m going to, once again, express my gratitude and appreciation for the effort, and courage, fortitude and just outright patience you’ve shown with this. I’m proud to ride beside you. I’ll have on my boat any time you need a site (it’s a commercial hand-line fisherman compliment. It’s recognition of a man worth having).

      • Dave, the company of battlers is plenty good enough for me — junior battler that I am. I suppose where Larry Correia and I come from, they build us simple, as well as stubborn. Sometimes, all it takes is being simple and stubborn enough, to set the whole house of cards quaking. I pride myself on the fact I’ve got some terrific friends: you, Larry, Sarah, Amanda, Kate, and so many others — both authors, and fans, and even some editors too. Hell, I wish I could divulge all the hundreds of pieces of mail and communication I’ve gotten from all across the field. People are tired. People are fed up. People are sick of the status quo. I am not sure folks like Gerrold or Nielsen-Hayden quite grasp the depth and breadth of animosity their recent attitude (and actions) have dredged to the surface. Even non-Puppy people are saying, “I didn’t like your slate, but I am sick of the lies, the slander, and the snobbery.” So, I lift a glass to the boatman. Battle on, sir. Battle on.

  16. bkc1066

    Dave, I liked your piece, and if it takes three more years I ‘ll help as I can… I agree 100% about Brad, he’s a classy guy with some quiet steel inside, I am very impressed by how he has handled this whole thing. But I bet sometimes he walks, telling himself over and over “never volunteer for anything, never volunteer for anything”.

  17. tocoons

    “General Custer, I have good news and bad news.”
    “What’s the good news?”
    “We’ve spotted reinforcements on the way.”
    “Great! What’s the bad news?”
    “They might not be in uniform.”

  18. Pingback: Four and Twenty Puppies Smoked in a Pie 4/20 | File 770

  19. “Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back.”

    To the Battlers!

  20. Pingback: Why do it? | Brad R. Torgersen