A picture of a good day, just because I am feeling cheerful and it’s not London, but Flinders Island on a good day. This is our dive boat, and the model for the dive boat in Changeling’s Island.
And what happens after the war….
Because there always is after the war.
This post will be all over the place, and quite possibly fairly silly. Yes, I know, that is SO unusual for me. It’s almost as if I said there was gambling in Rick’s Casino.
I’ve been, shall we say, a little tense. My wife had her follow-up colonoscopy a few hours ago (some of you may know that she had bowel cancer a while back, picked up (Thank God for the Australian screening system) early and treated.) Of course one never knows how successful or final this is, so there are regular follow-ups. A colonoscopy involves prep, and trust me that’s pretty terrible. The waiting is not much fun either.
We have an all clear for now, so I am relieved even more effectively than the prep would do. Filled with a great lightness, and reminder of knowing how it felt the first time, and sympathy and understanding all over again for those who have to deal with a bad result.
Why I brought this up is that… well, authors are human. Not all the same, not all likable, not all decent. But as human as the next man or woman, paying bills, making a career, farting in the bath. Well, I will grant you can make an exception for me. A lowly simian I, a thing of rags and tatters… but I do imitations. I can fool people that I’m human at about thirty paces and for as much thirty seconds so long as they’re upwind.
Which brings me around to ‘what happens after the war.’ (Don’t ask me, “Where is Wally” you’ve got to look for yourself.) An author I am acquainted with posted words to this sort of effect: “I can’t wait for the elections to be over and life to go back to normal.”
Now, the author in question had just posted an ‘All Trump supporters are complete morons’ type facebook post. She had deleted posts and unfriended a dozen people and had a complete melt-down over a pro-gun individual of her own political faction. Most of those who follow her… are her readers. Those of similar mindset had cheered and gleefully joined in the pile-ons.
In a few months, whoever wins or loses… it will be over. Please, my point is not to discuss who you or I think will win or lose. It’s that there will be winners and losers, and what happens after that.
I know, that’s the dreaded long-term thinking thing again. If you think you find it hard, what about me? We monkeys seldom think beyond this banana – but it is actually the center of writing. Writing is always a window into before, and after… or at least it is if you’re doing it right (right defined as people want to buy and read your work, not right as in Dave, or Wally (no this is not Wally), or IgNora think I am doing it right.) Short-time preferences are for fools and monkeys, certainly not for writers.
So: take the author above. The war she so wanted to end is over. Let’s imagine she (or her side) ‘won’. Happily ever after, and her life goes back to normal, right?
Well, no. Firstly, just from her point of view, she may have gained some readers who loved her overt stance. There are thousands of openly left wing editors and authors on facebook, and very few of the opposite, and relatively few centrists or those who keep their views to themselves. So: lots of competition, thin pickings, but she may have gained a few. Given that we know the proportions of Americans that self-identify as ‘liberal’ (26%) and the proportion of publishing professionals that donate to the Democrats (At least 99.4%) – that means she pleased her editor, if she noticed (but it’s not unusual)… and lost readers who were once happy to find and follow her from the other 74%.
And here is the thing: in real life, unless you’re really smart about it, losers are sore losers. And they don’t just go away. If they can hurt the victors, they will. If they can strike back and try again, they will. Avoiding that pendulum – WW1 and the treaty of Versailles…. And then WW2 (and the Marshall Plan, designed to avoid a backswing) is hard. Jerry Pournelle had a final scene in one of his stories that I read long ago that has stuck with me long after most of the story has blurred. I paraphrase and obviously emphasize what I found important: The mercenaries have effected a brutal but effective suppression of an uprising. The president thanks them profusely for winning. And the commander says brutally and bitterly that they have not won. The military can’t win. It can only buy time for politics. (and in my opinion, economics). You could in my opinion extend that to Law or even politics. You’re usually fighting for time for people for people to come to terms, adjust… or fail and set up the next conflict. It’s that or total genocide.
The point here is that it is not fast, not easy, and that a ‘win’ does not make the other side disappear or suddenly love you. You might say the SJW or CHORFs or puppy-kickers have ‘won’ every time. And every time they’ve ended up far worse off than before. Because they have had to fight harder, they’ve fought nastier and with more collateral damage each time. They forgot that their foes were human, (cycling back to my start) people with partners, people with illnesses, people with children. More importantly they decided that anyone who was not 110% for them… was against them. They could slander them, attack their reputations, families, livelihood. Anything, as long as they ‘won’. Language like ‘morons, Nazis, put them down, worthless, bad writers, bad actors’ were commonplace. And somehow, ‘miraculously’, they got their chosen tokens their awards, shut out anyone else, and wrote their new Versailles treaty.
Only the ‘defeated’ wouldn’t sign. Would not buy into it at all. There is not even Weimar, trying to abide. And the ‘reparations’ they need to repair the costs of that war, the recognition, the social kudos, and the sales – especially the sales… well, they have the same problem the author who was desperately wanting the election over.
They have a problem of no levers left. They did their worst, and failed to destroy the hard core of their foes, and ended up generating thousands more who didn’t used to hate their guts. But they do now. Another Pyrrhic ‘victory’ won.
The gulf between the sides widened, And there is almost no-one left on the non-left wing side of the equation who doesn’t put WorldCon and Hugo’s Admins firmly in the camp of the foes, cooking the books, helping the puppy kickers, acting as SJW enforcers. I know there are some folk among them who desperately wanted no part in the fight, to bridge the gap. But they failed to grasp the nettle and show aggressively that they were neutral and trustable. They never understood the teacher’s kid syndrome: When Dave Truesdale possibly steps over the line and the SJW’s squall – you cut slack because you don’t want to be seen as siding with ‘your kid’ and acting as their enforcer. When Mary Three-Names breaks the rules (open-and-shut case, broken) you don’t give her token pat on the wrist because she’s a SJW Darling and therefore ‘your kid’. If you want to be seen as neutral by people who think you’re on the other side… Mary is out on her ear and Dave gets a pat on the wrist. That piece of Con Admin stupidity is barely topped by Dave McCarty’s handing voters data to ‘researchers’ straight out of a Tor Books site.
The 74% have mostly written WorldCon off. Barring major change, It’ll drift into being a WisCon with a few older people going for nostalgia. The Hugo brand is on life-support and will probably soon have a very limited value to a shrinking set of PC virtue-signallers. I know this may not have dawned on the core of 26% but we’ve passed the peak PC. Not that long ago – 10 years – it intimidated everyone, and had no apparent substantive opposition. In the circles they don’t move in… that is no longer true. It is massively and increasingly openly unpopular, and the media are as usual are way behind the curve. In 15 years’ time it’ll be dead except in tiny corners.
So – how does all of this loop into writing, or indeed into preventing another war? Well, as I said: a book is a brief window into a whole world – it inevitably has its roots in the last ‘war’ (whether that is a family fight or the last actual war on a planet, a story does not spring from nowhere. In your set-up you need that, and you need it quickly. Secondly if you’re setting up to write an all out war… you have two choices as an author. Either you destroy your foes completely, neatly finishing the book, or they will recur, stronger and nastier. A few – very talented – authors have actually handled winning the peace well. Frank Herbert used the concept of bravura. Diana Wynne Jones wrote about the losers in the war between Strangia and Ingary (Castle in the Air). If the foe cannot be destroyed, well, it’s a long term thinking task, and basically requires bridging the gap and the victors (not the losers) paying a price and accommodating the losers – making them happy enough, having levers enough, to avoid another war.
So where is Wally?
Well he’s been Haydn (and Haydn’s been dead for years) but here is his last movement. A wally – which is Australian for an incompetent idiot who can’t manage to do anything right – a wally is the sort of guy that, if you put him in a brothel with ten thousand dollars, would not only fail to get himself laid but would have every hooker in the place queuing up at the nearest nunnery to sign up, and would go to the bathroom, wipe his butt, put the money in the toilet and put the used toilet paper in his pocket. In this case our Wally comes from The Guardian, well known as ‘The Grauniad’ (because its spelling and grammar are… legendary) writer Damian Walter. Doing his best to be a little puppy kicker, and hurt careers of writers as best as possible, for political gain – just as I referred to above. Unfortunately for him… and fortunately for us, he’s a wally…
So I’m very proud to be given a Wally. It’s not quite the imprimatur of brilliance of a ‘Clamps’, but there seems to be a bit more money in a Wally. And I’m in grand – indeed awe-inspiring company. Now that I have my own Wally, I look forward to buying my own mountain.
You see Damian is the archetype wally. If he hates you – most folk will love you. If he predicts you will fail – you may buy your own mountain. If he says your prose is awful – he writes for The Grauniad – a financial disaster with a readership going down faster than drawers in the brothel wally would fail in. Oh he’s also a failed writer, who got a grant to write a novel I believe – and still failed. Oh, and he never met a fact he couldn’t get backward.
my comments in Bold
For the last few years, the Hugo awards for science fiction have been campaigned against by a group of writers and fans calling themselves the Sad Puppies – mostly male, very white, and overwhelmingly conservative.
You mean like the ‘mostly male’ very white officially Latina Sarah Hoyt? Or Amanda Green, or Kate Paulk – who headed Sad Puppies this year. Ah Wally.
Unhappy with sci-fi’s growing diversity, the Puppies have deliberately block-voted for certain titles to get them nominated for Hugos at the expense of a wider field.
Which is naturally why, when you count the numbers and actually don’t have Wally’s gender (explains his luck in the brothel) and skin color confusion they were MORE ‘diverse’ and they encouraged voters to both read and to vote for what they wished to. We can give you hundreds of links. Wally’s problem was that they weren’t M&Ms – different colors on the outside but all exactly the same inside.
They say it is their goal to “poke the establishment in the eye” by nominating “unabashed pulp action that isn’t heavy-handed message fic”.
Really? I thought I said it was because I was concerned at the drop in sf sales (well documented) meant that the direction was selling badly and that was threatening authors (including his darlings) ability to make a living and write. Some might turn to Patreon but surely the measure of popular (and therefore successful) is selling enough to live on. But yes, heavy handed message fic doesn’t sell well. Look at Kameron Hurley’s figures. She’s published them.
I say it is to sponsor awful writers.
“Sponsor” – you mean like Nora Jemisin getting herself funded by Patreon? No, Wally. We actually SELL books for a living. I know you failed at that, as do most of your darlings, but it is possible. And – based on his track record if Wally thinks we’re awful… I am SO proud to be one of his ‘awful’.
The Puppies have two criteria for what they deem excellence: does it turn a buck?
Well, Wally accidentally got one thing right. The most honest measure of popularity is that people are prepared to pay for your work. That you’re not so useless that you have bleg or get grants or ‘teach’ writing. Yep. Lots of paying readers suggest popular to me. And the Hugo’s in theory were not ‘excellence’ but ‘popular’.
And has the author dared to say anything, ever, that they disagree with?
Yes, well as they lean libertarian they kinda expect you to be contrary… oh wait. Dumb Wally is confused again. No, PC-doctrinaire books are your left wing specialty. You know: the kind that don’t sell, that you rate as ‘excellent’.
This, paired with their conspiracy theories about some big sci-fi publishers, means that they tend to champion mostly self-published authors. Nothing about quality – though you don’t need an in-depth knowledge of sci-fi to understand that a short story called Space Raptor Butt Invasion (yes, really) has not arrived on the Hugo lists because of its calibre.
Actually it was voted in to mock the crap that SJW’s were putting up. But that’s too hard for Wally.
Oh yes, Wally, I get my conspiracy theories from that well known Cooky-looky journal of the paranormal – Publisher’s Weekly. And the US employment stats. That’s why I believe weird stuff like that your excellence is selling like pork chops in Mecca – and the Traditional publishers are cutting their mostly female staff. Oh and Independent Authors are making more money than them. And of course if Wally ACTUALLY knew how to fact check, he’d find out to his shock that no… Jim Butcher isn’t self-published. Neither am I. Or Larry, or Brad or Sarah… I’m moving that way because I like the money.
With this year’s Hugo awards coming on Saturday night in the US, I thought I’d read some of the authors championed by the Puppies. (Don’t ever say I don’t do anything for you.)
Oh no Wally, I would never say you’d never done anything for us. Being slated by you is worth a lot of sales. Please, dear God, don’t praise me, Wally. Anyway- as best anyone can work out you read one paragraph of mine, and less than one chapter of Larry Correia. That’s not a huge sacrifice for most people, but I do appreciate it must have been the hardest thing a Wally like you ever did.
If you find meaning in straight-to-video Dolph Lundgren films, then Larry Correia’s novels will be your kind of read. Correia, accountant-turned-author-turned-Sad-Puppies-creator, kicked off his Monster Hunter series with Monster Hunter International, about an accountant whose boss turns into a monster. So he shoots him. In fact, much of the Monster Hunter series relies rather heavily on people the hero doesn’t like turning into monsters … so he can shoot them.
I am envious. I’d love to be compared to Dolph Lundgren. The idea that a super bright guy, and a commercial success – who is apparently really nice bloke is an undesirable comparison… well… Wally. And as for shooting, as the bullets had no effect on werewolves… shows Wally once again got things got things completely backwards. But never mind, Wally. I’m sure your reading comprehension is good enough for your ‘excellence’.
Sadly, Correia’s books are not quite awful enough to be good. They’re just mediocre. That’s fine – Dolph Lundgren movies are also often mediocre, but plenty of people like them. But did Lundgren’s Masters of the Universe deserve to take the 1987 Oscar over Oliver Stone’s Platoon? I don’t think so – and in that same way, Correia’s novels in no way merit consideration for the Hugos (thankfully, he only made the 2014 longlist).
A measure of popularity or Wally defined ‘excellence’? The Hugos were supposed to be a measure of fan popularity Wally.
Dave Freer’s Changeling Island, shortlisted for this year’s inaugural Dragon awards, is all about story
Actually, Wally, if you’d read more than the first paragraph… you might have figured out that this particular book, which is YA and targeted at 12-14 year old boys, is by almost any accounting ‘message’ fiction. Admittedly, you’d hate that message, and I tried very hard to keep it from being heavy handed. But then to get through to Wally you need a sledge-hammer. It was intended to be a story about which I knew a great deal of the background, as Fisheries Scientist and a diver to keep the action fast moving. I was writing a book for one of the most neglected, belittled and undervalued sectors of the population: the rural boy. In this case an Aboriginal boy who, first and foremost, is just a boy. He finds his roots in his ancestral home and traditional way of life – hunting and fishing, living off the land, learning responsibility, and the love of his heritage. Awful, Wally, just awful. The picture is a link – you can look inside and read a little more than Damian.
– which is fortunate, because sentences as thoroughly mangled and amateurish as Freer’s won’t be winning any prizes (at least I hope not).
Oh I hope this is as good Wally’s other predictions. I’m proud just to be there. But if you’d like to spoil his day you can go and vote for Larry Correia in Fantasy and me in YA. Wally would have to change his underwear if either of us won. He be pretty miserable if it eclipsed the Hugos too
Open with a strong start, they say; now read Changeling Island’s opening:
It had been the most terrifying, miserable day of Tim Ryan’s whole miserable life. He’d just done it to show Hailey. Because … because she said he was too scared. He was. Every time he tried anything it always went wrong. Horribly wrong. And he wasn’t a thief. Well, he didn’t want to be. It was one of the few thing things his dad ever really got angry with him about. And then he’d only been a little five-year-old kid helping himself to a chocolate bar in a store. But Hailey … she said … and he’d do anything to get her.”
In fairness … to Freer … pick any passage, from. Any Puppy author like Brad Torgersen or Sarah Hoyt and you will find … sentences … as mangled as these.
Well, I am in great company then! And John Wright a little later, too. Wally, I must explain this to you: why you’re such a failure and have sold almost nothing ever and I – at last count and not considering myself a success was closing on half a million sales – the purpose of English in a novel is to communicate successfully. To set the scene, to adequately foreshadow the previous ‘wars’ and get the reader rapidly into the mental space of the protagonist is hard. This is the viewpoint of a badly upset, slightly immature 14 year old. Sentence fragments are how he is thinking. It’s more logical and clear than Wally thought, so no wonder you were confused. The book was bought by an editor from a traditional publisher. The editor used to be an academic, teaching English Lit. I believe. It was copy edited by a retired English Prof, who sent me a lovely letter about it, Wally, asking if she could edit any others I wrote. Oddly, she never mentioned sentence fragments.
I’ve run out of time, to say nothing about nausea tablets – so I’ll leave Wally getting confused by John Wright out. As Wally found my writing aimed at a minimum 12 year old too hard, you understand why he’d wipe himself with 100 dollar notes and stick toilet paper in his pocket, when dealing with Wright.
I’ll leave with a last precious Wallyism from Damian Walter.
But the Sad Puppies don’t want any of their books to end up on bestseller lists or TV screens.
Oh. Dearie dearie me! If only I’d known I didn’t want that. I need a time machine. Larry probably needs two. Wally, you prat. I’ve been on several bestseller lists. I’ve even had that option offered. And yes, I still hope for more.
It’s the same frustrating paradigm that British MP Michael Gove hit upon when he said that people were sick of experts, or what Donald Trump plays upon when he rails against “professional politicians”. We’re seeing the Dunning-Kruger effect played out on a mass scale, and the Sad Puppies are just a speck in that wider problem.
A classic example of Wally. The diagnostic for Dunning-Kruger is that the Wally always claims everyone else is bad and thick and… oh a hack. And he is, of course, brilliant. The evidence – when you look at exam results, or actual measurable success, the Dunning-Kruger syndrome Wally comes last. He hasn’t sold any books. He is a failure. He doesn’t grasp the use of sentence fragments.
Now:You’ve read Damian Walter’s high opinion of his own genius. His results: well, he’s a total failure who can’t sell anything. Here is my bio. And I have sold around half a million books. I don’t think that’s particularly good.