Why The Internets No Can Has Nice Things

I thought this week’s post would be about Lunacon – which I thoroughly enjoyed and will be writing an after-action-report for eventually if life doesn’t hit me first (it might. The job is going nuclear right now) – but no. It seems the usual suspects, the ones who like to point and shriek without any actual substance, decided I’m the ultimate in evil (or should that be Eville) for doing exactly what I said I was going to do from the start: report, to the best of my ability, what the top 10-ish items in each category were from the Sad Puppies 4 comments, and link to the full list.

From the outraged squeals and even, I’m told, Twitterized threats of lawsuits (for what? Not even the British libel laws are that insane – You want to sue someone for suggesting you be nominated for an award? Really? You do realize how ridiculous that sounds, I hope), you’d think I’d suggested something truly vile like… oh, I don’t know, putting the loo paper on the hanger the other way. You know, real villainy, not this fake stuff.

For the record: no, I did not choose who ended up on The List. The folks who contributed to the category pages on the Sad Puppies 4 site did that. All of them. I made a few suggestions, but mostly I kept my yap shut on my preferences. I won’t be posting those until after nominations close. When it’s too late for a statement of what I think deserves to be on the ballot to influence any voting.

As far as updates and corrections go, this is what is happening: the post I made last week will not be modified. Its counterpart on Sad Puppies 4 will be updated as I get corrections in and recheck some of the places where my army of slightly belated fact-checkers (Thank you judgeadd and the one or two others who commented on my typos and oopses) suggested I might have miscounted. I’m flagging the updates as I make them so it’s clear what’s happening.

Those who have asked to be removed are being asterisked instead to indicate that they asked to be taken off. My perspective is that this is a list of people’s recommendations. There is no need to ask for permission, any more than anyone needs to ask for permission to post a review or purchase the work. Frankly, I think asking to be taken off anyone’s list of award-worthy pieces is an insult to the people who genuinely believe the work is that good, so unless someone asking to be removed is prepared to institute a policy that requires prior approval before purchasing their work, reviewing it, and so forth, they stay on the list.

If someone wants their very own asterisk on the list, they need only ask me. I’m not that difficult to get hold of, and I am asterisking those who ask on the two list posts. I’ll asterisk someone who asks here, too. There may be a delay, since I do have a rather demanding full time job, but it will happen.

Finally, I’d ask those who are looking to everything that happens here to find fault to consider this: what is more important to you – fandom (and by this I mean small-f fandom, the one that lives under the really big tent and includes absolutely everyone who loves the genre whether in movie, book, game, or some other form) or winning? If you want to quibble about who fandom is, or you’d rather see it burn than fall into the hands of “those evil (insert epithet here)” I’d suggest that you really care more about winning.

Those who would rather see fandom die than lose are the problem. I want to see fandom thrive. I want to see more people involved, doing whatever they can to bring more people into the scene. If you don’t agree with my attempt at that, how about instead of pissing on what I’m doing you get out there and make your own attempt at making things better?

83 thoughts on “Why The Internets No Can Has Nice Things

  1. I have been following Jeffro Johnson’s coverage of the outrage and I starting to see a perspective from which it makes sense, which also dovetails neatly with my own experience at two conventions recently.

    At the last con I attended I was struck by the contrast between the dealer’s room and the rest of the event areas of the con. The dealer’s room was well-labeled and positioned next to the registration desk. The gamer’s room was down the hall from it, and not too difficult to find.

    The rest of the event areas–panel rooms, video rooms, and the like–were not labeled at all. The schedule was not printed in the program, there was a separate sheet for it and you had to ask for it. And having the schedule didn’t help much, since the schedule listed events in “Room A”, “Room B” and so on, while the rooms in the hotel were labeled things like “The Oak Room” and “The Willow Room”.

    The staff wasn’t terribly helpful either. I was given instructions like, “Go see Bob, he’s handling that.” If you don’t know Bob by sight, then I guess you don’t get in.

    There was no hospitality suite and no open parties. Once the registration table closed I saw no official staff presence at all. I’m sure that there were staff members about, but they didn’t wear anything to identify themselves. You had to already know who was who.

    There seemed to be two conventions occupying the same hotel. There was the dealer’s room (which to be fair, was very well organized and had a wide selection of vendors) and then there was a more or less private party for the organizers and their friends.

    The implication (although I am sure that the organizers would object strenuously to my putting it this way) was that the convention catered to two different groups; consumers–who were expected to come in during the day, spend money, and leave, thereby paying for the convention–and the in-crowd, who were having a party.

    What does this have to do with people rejecting the Sad Puppies nominations? By opening the nominations to any random person on the internet, you’re putting on airs. You’re allowing consumers–who are supposed to just sit down, shut up, and buy books–to act like the in-crowd.

    Stripped of its convoluted rhetoric about “diversity” and “inclusion” that seems to be the source of the outrage. You can’t let anybody just walk in and make nominations. Those people haven’t earned the right to be Fans. They don’t know Bob by sight. They haven’t been properly vetted and they haven’t paid their dues.

    How dare you let them have any say in the Hugo Awards?

    1. You are not too far off, I think. Here is one of the in-crowd explaining the Hugos over in the comments at File770:

      The Hugos represent a particular community – literary convention fandom – which is only a subset of the wider community of people who are in any way actively fannish, which is itself a subset of the yet wider community of people who read/watch and enjoy science fiction. There seems no reason which this community should not give awards. You may ask why anyone else should take notice of its awards, but that simply depends on whether it is in fact able to come up with good stuff. An awards process which represented everyone would be unworkable, partly because the field is too diverse to develop a meaningful consensus, partly because an award is a recommendation, and cannot work as such if there is no wider community to recommend things to.

      But I do think traditional fandom bears part of the responsibility for this. Partly because of its use of the word ‘fan’; for some people it means someone engaged in fannish activity (as opposed to those who ‘just read the stuff’); for others it just means an enthusiast. When traditional fans use ‘fan’ to mean a member of their community, others may hear them as saying that they (the others) are not real enthusiasts. That’s not the intention, but it can come over that way. So when the Hugos are advertised as fandom awards in which all fans can take part, ordinary readers may think it means them, and be confused to find that it doesn’t. ‘If these awards represent all fans, why do I have to make a contribution to a weird event called a “convention”? Why are there awards for odd things like semiprozines, which ordinary readers know nothing about?’ (Of course, everyone is welcome to join the community; that’s not in question. But some people may be puzzled about why they have to join a community; aren’t they already members of the only community that matters, that of people who read science fiction?)

      I think another thing that contributes to this is a narrative one hears quite often, according to which at one time science fiction was a secret; only members of fandom knew about it. So, of course it made sense that awards should be decided on by members of conventions then, because they were the only people in a position to do so. But now science fiction is something with mass popular appeal, so awards should represent everyone. As I understand it, this isn’t actually true – Mike produced some figures a while ago which showed that the proportion of actively fannish people to those who read the stuff has remained fairly constant, though both have expanded. The Worldcon of 1953, the first to award Hugos, had 750 members. (Some in the 50’s were a lot smaller.) I’m fairly sure more than 750 people read science fiction in that year. But if you don’t see this, you may well get the impression that the Hugos have become unrepresentative.

    2. Looking at it from that side, it makes a lot of internal sense, and fits with the grumbling about people who have not paid their dues through service and membership with WorldCon jumping in and trying to recommend books et cetera.

    3. I’ve come across something like that, too.

      Told I need to go somewhere to get something from so-and-so (why they don’t have the stuff at the front is an insulting question, too) and when I do as directed I’m treated as an intruder.

      Or, as stated, someone trying to put on airs that the others own.

      Telling ’em to lose the attitudes or get the shit knocked outta ’em livened things up a bit. I was pointed at for hours.

      1. I have worked conventions, and that is p*ss -poor management and gofering and reg desk work. Ridiculously bad. Even the poorly run conventions I have attended have done better than that.

        1. Same. It doesn’t take but two brain cells in very eccentric orbits to come up with, “Hey, let’s actually take care of our *customers,* our *fans,* because they’re the reason we GET PAID (as Larry likes to point out). And hey also, why not get more people involved? More people at the con, more books, t-shirts, and googly-eyed monster posters sold. We could be the next Dragoncon!”

          1. Get paid? That might be true for DragonCon, but for other cons, it is more likely that the people who work there are paying to be at service. I have volunteered for MidAmericon2. That means that I have to pay for membership, hotel and airticket. I’m not being paid in any way.

            Hopefully I will have a good time anyhow and help others have a good time.

            1. IIRC “Get Paid” refers to the authors.

              IE The Authors “get paid” when people purchase their books.

            2. “Get paid? That might be true for DragonCon, but for other cons, it is more likely that the people who work there are paying to be at service. I have volunteered for MidAmericon2. That means that I have to pay for membership, hotel and airticket. I’m not being paid in any way. – Hampus Eckerman

              Huh. Okay, keep in mind that there’s a lot of years under the bridge since I was involved in cons (well over twenty by this point), but when I volunteered as staff and occasionally security at DFFs and other cons way back when, I was “paid” by having my three or four membership comped.

              If it was an out of town con, like ArmadilloCon or NASfic or AggieCon or whatever, I provided my own travel and paid for my own room and meals, of course, except for grazing off of the buffet at the Staff Lounge and Guest and Con Suites, which were open to everyone on staff.

              Guess things have changed over the years, and not for the better, huh?

              1. Majel Barett Roddenberry once stopped to complement me on my attentive running of her autograph line….. and then made sure she mentioned it to my supervisor, too.

          2. Yep, pretty much. It seems to be a divide between wanting to be the big fish in the itty bitty puddle, and wanting to dip a toe in the ocean whether you’re a big or a little fish.

            1. If by some mad chance any of my own books got reccommended by — Say Oprah or Glenn Beck (both of whom creep me out in a big way – I think I would be able to be gracious, and thank them for the interest. And then I would console myself by contemplating the resulting large checks for sales of my books…

      2. How dare you tell them to lose their privilege.
        That’s their line and you went and stole it.

    4. As a former event manager, I have to say, that sounds like a *really* badly organized convention. I’m put in mind of Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence.”

      1. Maybe they are trying to shrink their con? I worked on LunaCon ’95. Twenty years changes a lot.

        1. It sure does. I kind of think the M C Escher Memorial Hotel has an impact on organizational skills: whether you’re normally organized or not, you walk into that hotel and everything turns to chaos.

    5. Stripped of its convoluted rhetoric about “diversity” and “inclusion” that seems to be the source of the outrage. You can’t let anybody just walk in and make nominations. Those people haven’t earned the right to be Fans. They don’t know Bob by sight. They haven’t been properly vetted and they haven’t paid their dues.

      How dare you let them have any say in the Hugo Awards?

      Actually, that makes a lot of sense. The “diversity” and “inclusion” crap makes no sense even in its own racist and sexist terms, because so many of the SP are nonwhite or women and are writing about nonwhite or women characters, while so many of the PK’s are white men writing about white men.

      But as a self-presumed aristocracy — yeah, I get that.

        1. Let’s be fair, so is a significant chunk of the other side. Those of us who just want to be left alone to do our thing are very much the minority, alas.

  2. Seems it took you at least one or two weeks to compile the initial set of comments into The List. Given that you did not set up a system to capture asterisk requests, I would feel comfortable waiting three weeks or more for a response to anything I didn’t think to put in before suggestions closed.

    Of my satirical suggestions for the retro related works, four are in the European theater. I think it would be funny if one and only one had an asterisk. However, I do not represent Mr. Churchill, Mr. Hitler et al. I think I do not have standing to make such a request?

    1. Probably not, no. Posthumous requests are going to be kind of awkward, since I failed Necromancy 101.

  3. Thanks Kate for the hard work and the opportunity to share my favorite 2015 reads with other SFF readers. You, Sarah, Amanda, and others have fought the good fight against the brownshirts of PC fascism that infest the SFF community.
    I had a few more nominations that I failed to get posted (organized) in time but that’s OK. There were a number of the SP4 top tens I have not read but added to my to-read lists at Amazon and my local library.

    1. Thank you for your appreciation. I’m told that my collation job fades into insignificance compared to what the Hugo Committee faces: “the Doctor who episode where Some Thing happened” is not a rare thing, apparently.

  4. I just now found v2 of the big list, and find it much better for online viewing. Thanks. It’d be slightly more correct to say I was treating WWII as SF themed performance art. Likewise Syria, the Ukraine, and the Mexican border situation. Thriller might be a better genre fit for the modern stuff, but sci fi can be half justified.

    1. I tried to clean it up a bit, there. I don’t want to create too many versions, so I’m trying to minimize updates while capturing necessary changes.

  5. Why expend calories through labor when ya can just save ’em through ridiculous complaints?

    And their complaints are going to get more and more nonsensical. They’re not interested in rapprochement. They care only for protecting their contrived “elite” status so they can feel good about at least one thing in their lives.

    1. I’m guessing a week of tempest until nominations close to try to rally the No Award crowd and then some quiet until they crow (as SP and RP don’t get any noms in any category) or wail (because SP and RP managed to get at least one nom on the ballot) prior to the results being leaked, er, released.

      1. Honestly, I don’t care what does or does not make the ballot. As long as there are more ballots cast than last year, there’s an improvement.

        1. One of the (many, ever-changing) talking-points of the Usual Suspects is the “pathetically small” number of people who nominated. They ignore that many of the nominators (myself included) had never participated in the process before. I do wish I had a membership so I could have voted the past two years, the first time in a long time I’ve felt compelled to do so.

          Last year showed we have a fair number of voters. Without the No Award bloc-vote, we would have had more winners (like Toni).

        2. At this point I am beginning to think that VD is right, we should burn it down and start over. When I read people like Shadowdancer saying that they will not spend their money on a membership due to the events of last year, I wonder if the sad puppy efforts are doomed as self-respecting people do not give their money to scum who laugh all the way to the bank then kick the funders in a delicate place.

          1. Regardless, there’s a seriously awesome reading list there. So no matter what the exercise has been worthwhile just for that.

            1. *nod* I agree with scott2harrison. I’ve decided at this point that I’m not interested in giving any of my limited discretionary fund to any of those people, not even for a voting membership. I can find better things to spend it on, like ammo.

              I do agree that it does make for a great reading list, though, and I thank you for the effort in putting all of this together, and for dealing with the hassles and insults, Kate.

          2. Burning it down is what the other side tried to do with the No Awarding. I still think the Hugos can be saved.

            1. If the Noah Award thing happens again, in a big way … honestly, that may be the only option left to y’all.

              I speak as a somewhat detached but sympathetic outsider to all of this, of course.

    2. There’s a case to be made that some folks are energised by an Other onto whom they may legitimately dump their frustration and bile. How tangentially-related their scapegoat du jour is connected to reality does not appear to be relevant.

      Aside from the con artists making money off the system, it explains a lot of the appeal of progressive movements. Requires Hate was a rather telling name.

  6. Like I said earlier, I’m declining all nominations, doesn’t matter who makes them, so save your nominations for someone else. Until SFWA addresses their active and continuing support of abusers and child molesters, I will have nothing to do with anything that the organization promotes or stands for, which includes (but is not limited to) the Hugos.

    1. SFWA has nothing to do with the Hugos. The award given by SFWA is the Nebulas.

  7. More than anything, it’s the hysterical tone of those begging to be removed from the rec list that grates. Very few have asked nicely. Instead it’s outrage and virtue-signalling, as they try to ensure that absolutely no one gets the impression they are affiliated with us in the slightest.

    Our critics will say it’s because the Sad Puppy brand is “tainted”. And of course, our critics are the ones who have done their best to taint it, by comparing us to neo-Nazis, ISIS and Trump.

    1. This explains why the Hugo committees can never agree to release even the anonymized nominations from 2015. While the nominations were being made and before the stunning realization of “puppy” ballot success triggered an all-out reducation and shaming campaign, I imagine no few non-aligned voters added a John Wright, Jim Butcher or Toni Weisskopff to their nominating ballots.

      The blowback if the anonymization failed, from people with a track record of petty vinictiveness, some of whom control hiring / purchasing decisions and have access to mass media publications and coordinated name-blackening articles has to be properly terrifying.

  8. What if one of the nominees doesn’t want to be taken off, but wants to have an asterisk like all the other cool kids? Maybe there should be two asterisks, one for “wants to be taken off the list,” and one for “people who like asterisks.”

    1. Myself, I would want one of the original ones.

      Was bouncing around the ‘net a few weeks ago, and ran into an auction (didn’t save the link, durn it). They were selling an “original, verified Juden patch from the 1930s”. Price was (then) pushing $1,000.

      Those asterisks from Nuremberg (wups, pardon me, Seattle) may be worth a pretty sum one of these days, as an important historical artifact of a regime that self-destructed.

      1. Spokane. Wrong side of the state.

        The group that organized it is formerly known an acronym with Seattle in it, though, and the events that happened there were pretty solidly Seattle-ish, not what I saw when I lived in Spokane.

      1. I can remember when goalposts were firmly planted in the ground; moving them required serious digging and heavy lifting. I got suspicious when they put wheels on the goalposts. Now I see they have added a motor and steering wheel.

        1. That steering wheel is very important. Just saw someone on ATH comment that the Brit LGBT bunch is moving to get rid of their homosexual male members. Not “victimy” enough to be among their exalted oppressed ranks, apparently.

          1. Also because British male homosexuals are becoming victims of Muslim immigrants, and often enough that their loyalty to the Progressive cause is becoming questionable. And yes, what you’re seeing here is the British LGBT’s self-destructing as a political movement, just as European Feminism is self-destructing as a political movement on the same issue and for the exact same reason.

        2. At the rate they’re moving these days, much faster and the damn things will go relativistic.

          1. Don’t need wind power. Just attach a small generator to the wheels of the goal posts and it will generate more than enough power.

  9. Thanks for doing this. Don’t worry about the haters.

    Those who go into histrionics are only hurting themselves.

    1. “The internet never forgets.”

      A lot of people who ought to know better have said some mind-bogglingly stupid things that will come back to haunt them later.

  10. I have to admit that Cruella Eville does have a certain ring to it.
    But I will still always thing of you as our very own Kate the Impaler.
    Must find me a decent source of African ironwood. Seems the best choice for the current crop of tight a$$ed pricks. The question still remains, long sharp stakes or short blunt ones?

        1. I’d suggest a dildo. Something like the actual Hugo Award trophy, but even more phallic — and made of some variety of very, very splintery wood.

          I’m a little surprised that there haven’t been complaints about the shape of the Hugo Award, actually. Maybe there have been and I just haven’t seen them.

          1. I have to admit I’m kind of surprised nobody has shopped or photographed the Hugo Award beside the Assterisk in the… er… appropriate position (or inappropriate position as your mood dictates)

          2. I was a Hugo Award “escort” in 2011—one of the folk dressed up pretty and carrying the awards out for the presenters. Part of the talk on how to carry the award was “hold it by the base—and if you accidentally touch the rocket, do NOT attempt to polish off the fingerprints, because you don’t want to become the next meme.”

  11. “I want to see fandom thrive. I want to see more people involved, doing whatever they can to bring more people into the scene. If you don’t agree with my attempt at that, how about instead of pissing on what I’m doing you get out there and make your own attempt at making things better?”

    Kate, you do understand the futility of expecting the Perpetually Aggrieved to actually -work-, right?

    As a person who has read pretty much exclusively SF for entertainment since the time I could read Tom Swift in the 1960’s, I have found the Hugos -rarely- are given to the best SF/F. Usually they go to some stylistic unpleasantness that makes the reader depressed.

    Accordingly this year I will be nominating things from your list, which I have read, and which I liked. Also some things not on the list, because nobody else’s list matches mine.

    From this, many have concluded that we are all racist/bigot/homophobes, and must be PURGED from the Body of Fandom, lest our poison consume it entire. Those authors expressing outrage that their work was appreciated by the vile Sad Puppies can expect to enjoy less of my money in future, as I shall be treating the Ass-terisk List as a do-not-buy recommendation.

    In other news, The Phantom attended ComiCon in Toronto last weekend, and found it most enjoyable. Many fine artists and a few authors were there hawking their wares, and there were fun panels as well. Also lots of energetic kids running around in cosplay of all description.

    That’s the future of SF/F, not the bitter clingers riding mobility scooters because their mass exceeds their carrying capacity. There were scooters at ComicCon to be sure, but they carried young people with problems other than the self-inflicted variety.

    1. Yup on the future. We’re up to THREE Cons here in the Panhandle – a library-sponsored Con (oldest), an artists’ Con (not entirely family friendly), and a new one up in Borger that seems to have more of a Steampunk/maker vibe. This isn’t exactly a densely populated area, either, and these are all folks age 50 and under.

      1. Would you please send me via the email address on my blog the dates of these cons? I might be able to drive up for one. We’ve had two in Lubbock in the last year. They’re more comic/media oriented than most of the cons I’ve attended, but they look like they’re going to stay for a while. I was only able to attend one. It was mostly young (late teens to early 20s) people in attendance.

  12. FYI/A, Alistair Reynolds requested in your previous post to be removed, and as well as Peter and Emma Newman elsewhere.

    FWiW, as a fan, I’m not insulted when an author I recommended asks – and they have – to have their name withdrawn. Nor do I think that it somehow translates into a request that prior approval is needed for purchasing/ enjoying/ so forth.

    I don’t think it was any of those when Pratchett asked Going Postal be withdrawn in 2005, nor when Gaiman did so with Anansi Boys in 2006, to say nothing of everyone (Dave Creek, Larry Correia, Marko Kloos, Matt Surridge et al) who withdrew last year.

    Just my two cents. YMM(O?)V.

    1. Declining a nomination for whatever reason is one thing – and stating beforehand that one won’t accept and why so please don’t bother. I personally won’t accept because I don’t believe my writing is award-worthy in any category where it’s eligible, but I am immensely flattered that some believe it is and wouldn’t ask to be removed from anybody’s list if I should chance to make one.

      Regardless, your opinion is yours, and you’re free to have it.

      The posting of the top 10-ish of The List over at http://sadpuppies4.org has been updated with asterisks for those who asked to be removed in the posts on MGC or SP4, and those who asked by email. I’m not trawling various sites to find updates – I have a job and a life.

  13. From the appropriately named “Ferretbrain”:

    “How do you become the Sad Puppies organiser anyway? Divine right? Killing and eating the heart of your predecessor? Satanic pacts? Who gets to choose who drives the clown car?”

    The correct answer is, of course: volunteering,

    Found here, so nobody can accuse me of taking it out of context:


    1. Oh come on Ferretbrain, She is the Impaler, she made shish-kabob out of the predecessor (or possibly the entire con-con from last year instead (Kate, I hope you cooked them very well done, I would not want you to get their diseases)).

    2. Larry got one and two, because he thought it was worth the effort, and no one could stop him. Then Brad said ‘me next’, and Larry said ‘fine’. After last year, a bunch of people wanted a turn next. Kate, Amanda and Sarah apparently asked first, and got the 2016 slot, leaving others to settle for 2017, 2018 and so forth.

      Re. Hearts: When was the last time we saw Larry and Brad in public?

  14. you’d think I’d suggested something truly vile like… oh, I don’t know, putting the loo paper on the hanger the other way

    I’ll have you know my son was in tears this very morning, for a related problem.

    You see, last time he was on the facilities, he had to spin the roll several times to get any off– his sister (4, the duchess) had put the toilet paper on so it rolled from the back. He could work with that.

    Well, at some point, someone (probably daddy) fixed the toilet paper so that if you put your hand on it, and give it a good spin in a downward direction, it will unspool completely until it hits that little loop of glued-on TP.

    And that is why he was in full blown tears, because the toilet paper was, and I quote, B-WOOOOOOOOE-KN!!!!! (insert tears that would not be out of place in a Bugs Bunny cartoon’s funeral scene, complete with wails and possibly gnashing of teeth)

    Even after mommy fixed it, it took two gumballs and several minutes for him to recover from the trauma.

    See? INFAMY!!!!!

  15. “Those who have asked to be removed are being asterisked instead to indicate that they asked to be taken off.” – Kate Paulk

    *grin* In light of last year’s Hugos, the choice of an asterix for that is inspired.

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