The Short-Short WorldCon After Action Report

This is not the version that covers the business meeting. That will be written this weekend, when I should (assorted appendages crossed) be awake enough to do it justice. This version is more a collection of general impressions, all of them percolated with a stew of exhaustion and “zomg too many peoples!”.

Yes, I am an extreme introvert. Extreme to the level I routinely max out the introvert section of personality tests. I can engage in mental trickery to convince myself that being on panels is a kind of weird-ass chatting to my friends, but even that at small conventions leaves me drained after a few days of it.

WorldCon was… challenging. I spent a lot of my attendance time fighting the urge to get the heck away from all the people – despite the attendance being about standard for a WorldCon (for what it’s worth, US-based WorldCons seem to have been hovering in the 3500 to 4500 attendee range for years now – despite the increasing popularity of SF, despite new cons going from nothing to huge in a very short time frame, despite the largest ever WorldCon being the one that shared con-space and attendees with an early DragonCon (at about 10,000 if I remember correctly – DragonCon currently has around 70,000 attendees where the nicest thing one can say about WorldCon’s attendance numbers is that they’re… stable).

Anyway, that’s my problem to figure out.

First impression: where were the children? It’s been said the golden age of science fiction is late adolescence, but every time I ventured into the main part of the con (mostly the dealers area, to be honest) what I saw was predominantly older than me. I’m pushing fifty, people: I should not be one of the younger attendees. I’d guess from the people I saw that the average age would sit somewhere around my age, with a higher median and mode.

By comparison, the conventions I usually attend (LunaCon, RavenCon) and the one LibertyCon I’ve been to usually have a fair number of kids, mostly the children of fans. LibertyCon last year was possibly the youngest convention I’ve ever been to – that’s a convention which is building its future demographic. What will WorldCons do when their main cohort is too old to attend? They simply aren’t attracting enough younger people in to survive.

Next: dear $DEITY, the code of conduct. I understand the need to have something, because assholes will asshole and there needs to be a stick to beat them with when they won’t accept reasonable rebuke. Something with logic gaps a death star could fly through with room to maneuver, and then failing to follow the damn thing does not cut it, people. And yes, I happen to know damn well that Dave Truesdale did not do anything between the end of his panel and being expelled. Why? He was at Puppy Central, chatting with the rest of us there for the rest of the afternoon and evening. He sure as hell wasn’t looking at his phone.

Oh, and if your self-worth is so fragile that statements which make you uncomfortable, even excessively uncomfortable, can’t be borne, you really need to go back to the nursery where you belong until you’ve learn to adult like the rest of us. I could have made the exact same complaint dozens of times every day of the convention. Every time someone claimed “puppies” (usually undifferentiated) were out to destroy or “grief” WorldCon or the Hugos. At the utterly classless statements two of the winners had read for them. At the crass humor of the Hugo ceremony (which I personally didn’t mind, but come on, folks, some people do bring their children to these things – keep it to a PG rating for their parents sake. Nobody needs to explain to Junior why everyone is laughing about an older woman and a whip. Let Junior figure it out through the wonders of the internet when puberty starts moving into memory territory). I didn’t make any complaints for the simple reason that I’m an adult. Whining about someone being mean to me is what small children do. Adults prove by their behavior that they are not mean and that the whiners are the ones who are wrong.

And that leads me to my main observation: most – the overwhelming majority (I am nobly resisting the use of the word ‘vast’ here) – fans are decent, well-intentioned people being abused by a very small cadre of what could be described as hard-social-justice types. The abusers are using the fans’ desire to do what they believe is right to push an agenda that will destroy the field (take a look at the numbers in Dave’s post this week), destroy WorldCon (come on, it should have easily 5-figure attendance by now), and destroy the Hugo awards.

When I was reading the finalists, I gave my impressions as I saw them. I did not look at the names of the artists or authors until I’d finished. I wanted to review the works without any preconceptions attached. As works, at least two of the winners would not, in my view, have been finalists if their names had been something like “John Smith”. This damages the field in several ways – first, if the winners believe they won honestly, they don’t receive the extra polishing and learning they would have if they’d been honestly told their works weren’t up to scratch and told why. They don’t stretch themselves because they’re already winning and think they’re as good as it gets. Second, if they do realize what’s going on, they become bitter and suspect any praise while being desperate for evidence that they really did deserve something. And the biggest damage goes to everyone else: the more deserving people who don’t get the recognition and know that they’ve been passed over for a less deserving candidate; and the other people of that favored group who will never be regarded as equals because they aren’t ever treated as equals.

Think about it: if you carry a child everywhere and never let it try to get to what it wants, that child will never learn to walk. You teach them learned helplessness by trying to protect them from everything, and they never grow up and never stop draining you dry.

Of course, if you don’t really believe those people (whoever “those people” may be) can be as good as you, giving them an easy ride and telling them it’s because they’re special/disadvantaged/insert-plausible-feelgood-sounding-reason-here, you can keep them under your control damn near forever, especially if you also teach them that anyone who says different is evil and vile and wants to hurt them.

Using the good intentions of fans to accomplish this and treating them as your useful idiots to discard when you’ve got your victory (and you’re wondering why its falling apart in your hands – because people who think this way are invariably incapable of even maintaining anything, and building things might as well be another universe) is particularly nauseating because so many fans actually are “other”. You typically won’t find a bigger concentration of folks on the autism spectrum or with assorted mental illnesses or just plain eccentric outside a psychiatric ward.

I’m sure that really makes the social justice types feel good. They’re abusing the very people they claim to want to help, destroying those peoples’ hard-built safe spaces, and gloating about it.

No wonder so many fans are so terrified of bringing down the social justice wrath they’ll do damn near anything to prevent it.

91 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

91 responses to “The Short-Short WorldCon After Action Report

  1. TRX

    > What will WorldCons do when their
    > main cohort is too old to attend?

    It’ll become something like the SFWA; still around, but largely irrelevant to the people who actually write and buy science fiction.

    Extra points if a major publisher becomes a “contributing sponsor” and turns Worldcon into part of their marketing scheme.

    • freddiemacblog

      Extra points if a major publisher becomes a “contributing sponsor” and turns Worldcon into part of their marketing scheme.

      You mean that hasn’t happened yet? Funny, with so much Tor involvement, I was sure they’d already taken over. Guess they’re delaying the official notice until they’ve been controlling things behind the scenes for a decade …

  2. Albert

    Given the sickos that the chorfs have among their ranks, if I was going to Worldcon I’d never want to bring minors with me.

  3. Christopher M. Chupik

    “And yes, I happen to know damn well that Dave Truesdale did not do anything between the end of his panel and being expelled. Why? He was at Puppy Central, chatting with the rest of us there for the rest of the afternoon and evening.”

    I bet certain people are reading this statement right now and saying “Uh-oh”. 🙂

  4. Andrew

    “I bet certain people are reading this statement right now and saying “Uh-oh”

    They were saying “Uh-oh” when it became known that not only had the whole incident been videotaped and recorded, but that Dave was going to release them when he had the chance.

  5. Uncle Lar

    CHORF and SJW lie, they have to as their narrative seldom has any real basis in fact. Dave said things that hurt their widdle feelings so of course he was the Devil incarnate and obviously guilty of anything they cared to make up about his behavior.
    On the median age thing, be interesting to know if that is typical for the normal KC con, I suspect not. Firstly, you have the cost of an attending membership, not cheap even for youth if I recall. Second, was there a kid’s track of any sort? LC actively encourages kid friendly activities like balloon art, face painting, and such. Thirdly, I think it’s safe to admit that the literary SF crowd owns WC. They certainly showed us with the Hugo voting didn’t they, and that crowd tends to not have kids at all, at least of their own. And they certainly don’t approve of the little buggers running around under foot.
    And thank you yet again for being the tip of the Sad Puppy spear, both there at WorldCon and for your valiant efforts to put together a fair and coherent suggested reading list for consideration this past year.

    • I’d be curious to see how many older (as in around for more than 15 years) Cons have a kid or young-teen-friendly track or options. LibertyCon impressed me that way (and others, but using the glass for supervised balloon tic-tac-toe as parents load cars? Brilliant!)

      • The Other Sean

        TO the best of my recollection:

        Marcon, the largest of the Ohio sci-fi conventions, has some children’s programming, IIRC. I’ve not been in a number of year, however, as it moved from Memorial Day, to Easter, and then to Mother’s Day.

        Millennicon, now defunct, but which made it to 30 year mark in 2016, had good programming for children in the 12 and under range. However, for the last 7 years or so, teen programming was meager; gaming or regular panels was about it.

        Midwestcon is the oldest of the Ohio conventions, and is a relaxacon and lacks any real programming, so there is no children’s programming.

        I’ve been to Inconjunction in the past but honestly can’t remember if they had children’s programming or not. Since its often held the same weekend as LibertyCon, I doubt I’ll be back to it; LibertyCon is much more fun.

        I don’t think the now-defunction Context had any children’s programming.

        I don’t recall the new PandoraCon having had children’s programming.

    • So far as I can tell, there really wasn’t much of anything for younger fans outside of gaming. Which was surprising to me, because the last couple of WorldCons (LonCon & Sasquan) both had fairly robust young & teen programming. But MidAmericon barely had anything, not even a teen lounge.

      > I’d be curious to see how many older (as in around for more than 15
      > years) Cons have a kid or young-teen-friendly track or options.

      Can’t speak for everywhere else, but the two main Chicago conventions (WindyCon & CapriCon) both have young/teen friendly programming, activities, and lounges. I know the person in charge of the WindyCon teen lounge, and she seems to get it that most normal con activities are not what kids are looking for.

    • Ben Yalow

      There was a pretty extensive children’s program at this Worldcon, in 2215A/B — a few dozen program items, running for just about the entire length of the con. You can view it all by going to the online program, at https://sites.grenadine.co/sites/mac2/en/schedule?day=all and setting the location to 2215A/B in the pulldown menu.

      I was particularly pleased that we decided that, despite their availability being limited, we scheduled hour-long “Meet the astronaut” sessions with each of the astronauts, since the kids really liked those.

    • At Sasquan, somebody tried to point at me as an example of a younger fan. I was toting a baby, but as I pointed out, when you’re pushing 40, you’re not a good example of “younger fan”.

  6. Ben Yalow

    A few technical comments:

    The largest Worldcon, in terms of attendance, was LACon II — 8365. A few other Worldcons had attendance in the 6000+ range (most recently Loncon 3, at 6946). The list of all past Worldcons, with their sizes (as best can be determined, since it’s particularly hard with the older ones) can be found at http://www.smofinfo.com/LL/TheLongList.html

    And to answer Uncle Lar’s comment — there was a full track of children’s programming (it basically ran the full length of the convention, in 2215A/B). If anyone is interested, the easiest way to find what it contained is to look at the online schedule https://sites.grenadine.co/sites/mac2/en/schedule?day=all and filter for location 2215A/B. One of the things I was most pleased about for that was that, despite their limited availability, we scheduled an hour for each of our astronauts to spend with the kids.

  7. Ben Yalow

    Technical correction:

    The Worldcon never combined with Dragoncon. There was a NASFiC (the alternative con when the Worldcon leaves North America) that combined with Dragoncon in 1995.

    And the largest Worldcon in terms of attendance (rather than membership) was LACon II, with an attendance of 8,365. It’s been over 6000 attendees a few times since, most recently Loncon 3 (2014), with 6,946.

    There’s a list of all the past Worldcons, with their sizes (just an estimate, for many of the older ones) at http://www.smofinfo.com/LL/TheLongList.html

    • Kate Paulk

      Ah, I see what happened. I managed to conflate the Worldcon and NASFiC numbers. Which – sadly – is even more damning.

      A NASFiC combining with Dragoncon in 1995 gets attendance over 10,000 (over 14,000, actually), Dragoncon has since gone on to attendance numbers over 70k, where Worldcon numbers have hardly moved in years (taking the numbers from the program book, but I haven’t graphed them against area populations or estimated fandom size so it’s a bit hard to say more than that Worldcon attendances aren’t increasing much if at all)

      • Ben Yalow

        That’s pretty much correct. The Worldcon numbers have been pretty stable over the last few decades — the 4-6000 range (with a few outliers above and below there), and, until recently, smaller when it went outside the US. Loncon 3 may be the start of a trend when non-US Worldcons are comparable in size to the US ones (L3 was bigger than almost all of them, but we don’t know how big the Helsinki Worldcon will be next year, and, if selected, the sizes for the Dublin one in 2019 and the New Zealand one in 2020).

        I believe that Worldcons have pretty much hit their natural limits on size. In order to grow larger, I suspect that the convention would need to make the changes that cons like Dragoncon and SDCC have made — stayed in one location, hired paid staff, and become a single entity under the control of a single management team. And those are all things that the Worldcon membership has strongly resisted — rotating around the world, with each convention bringing its own unique changes as it merges the culture of the Worldcon with its own local fannish culture to produce an interesting blend is viewed as an essential part of the Worldcon. And, if that is to continue, then the convention really can’t grow much beyond its current size — it’s too hard on the staff, many of whom are new to the job of that size, since there hasn’t been a Worldcon in that area for a long time.

        If you stay in one place, it’s much easier to grow. The marketing is easier, and you can build the membership by adding a few more onto each past year’s membership. But the locals from Kansas City are less likely to follow the Worldcon to Helsinki next year, or San Jose the year after. Some will — they’ll decide that they had such a good time at this year’s Worldcon that they’ll want to try it again next year (and probably merge on a sightseeing trip to Finland and the Baltic region, since the airfare is a large chunk of the cost). But most of them won’t.

        When there were more Worldcons held in the Northeast, then there could be some cross-marketing. People who went to Baltimore in 1998 could think about Philadelphia in 2001 and Boston in 2004. But the voters haven’t picked a Northeast bid since then (the last Northeast bid, which I was on, was for DC in 17, and the voters picked Helsinki over us). And there haven’t been a lot of Northeast bids, because hotel prices in that area have tended to be fairly high compared to elsewhere, because of the supply/demand for hotel facilities (the last New York Worldcon was 1967, and I was also on the last significant New York bid, which lost to Atlanta for 1986 — it’s been impossible to get any reasonable pricing in New York City in decades).

        So, without changes that the Worldcon is unlikely to make, I expect it’s likely to stay at about its current size.

        • Khazlek

          I don’t think it’s terribly surprising that people with young children are less likely to attend a convention that involves long distance travel, particularly to Europe. I suspect that most children in Helsinki will be relatively local.

  8. I wouldn’t send young people to ASN event that endorsed pedophiles, and the Hugo is bercvoming just another participation trophy.

  9. At Sasquan, I had a conversation with another filker during the time period of the Hugo ceremony where we both talked about being glad to skip it. And we hadn’t heard yet about the slew of No Awards.

    I’d been having a good time until then, but the very public glee following the ceremony put a sour note on the whole experience.

  10. Have you considered the possibility that other people might simply enjoy different books than you, and it might have nothing to do with “a small cadre of hard-social-justice types” who are “abusing” the majority of the Worldcon fandom?

    • The Other Sean

      I have considered it briefly, but then reality intruded, and the idea was discarded.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Have you considered the possibility that nobody on our side takes you seriously anymore?

    • We considered it, but then embraced the power of and.

    • vavu2009

      Liking different books is one thing, The League of the Wooden Assholes is something else. No this isn’t just a simple difference of opinion.

    • Civilis

      Have you considered the possibility that other people might simply enjoy different books than you, and it might have nothing to do with “a small cadre of hard-social-justice types” who are “abusing” the majority of the Worldcon fandom?

      I just love the cognitive dissonance at work.

      “Science fiction is overwhelmingly white and male!” leads to a crusade to bring more blue-tribe members in in the name of superficial diversity. “Science fiction is dominated by the blue tribe!” leads to ‘diversity of thought? who needs it!’.

      There’s obviously something wrong with modern science fiction if you look at the trends and sales numbers.

      • There are more books available for all SFFnal tastes than ever before in the history of literature. It’s a great time to be a reader and there are so much good books out there that nobody has the time to read them all.

        Why fret about some sales figures, man? Relax. All sorts of figures are down. Music sales are awful but do you think that’s because contemporary music is bad? No, people just use their money differently than they used to.

        Also, there’s lot of SFF published that isn’t in those figures because it’s not marketed as genre works. The mainstream is more open to all kinds of SFF-ish stuff than ever before.

        Great times!

        • vavu2009

          Sales figures are down when interest in SF is up. If the books aren’t selling, it’s because they aren’t what the public is looking for. Keep trying to sell what people don’t want and you (and the authors who work for you) go out of business. You should be more interested in growing the SF fanbase than scoring points against some people you think if as your inferiors.

        • I’m, like, curious, man.

          Does this, like, poseur thing, you know, ever actually fool anybody anymore?

        • Civilis

          If all this is true, then why are you even worrying about us?

          Besides, all this is irrelevant to my point, which is there is no difference between ‘Have you considered the possibility that other people might simply enjoy different books than you, and it might have nothing to do with “domination by the white patriarchy”?’ and ‘Have you considered the possibility that other people might simply enjoy different books than you, and it might have nothing to do with “a small cadre of hard-social-justice types”?’

          Either diversity is not a valid goal, in which case we win because we’re interested in enjoyable books, or diversity is a valid goal, and the blue tribe monoculture currently dominating science fiction is harmful.

          • I’m sure everybody is interested in enjoyable books in their own opinion. You can’t own it.

            • Civilis

              And this has what relation to my comment? All you’re doing is trying to obfuscate the issue. If there are so many enjoyable books out there, and it’s so easy to find them, why was it so important to spend all this time pushing superficial diversity on Science Fiction (which means making everything blue tribe)? Why are so many fans going elsewhere for their entertainment? I spend a lot of time studying fandom itself, and at this point outside of a couple of YA series, books have become almost irrelevant.

              Of course, none of the Blue Tribe members believe there is nothing at stake in the culture wars, which is why they throw away their time and credibility pushing works that the majority of fans don’t find enjoyable. For an actually relevant real world example of this, take the Ghostbusters remake where critics admitted they skewed their reviews in a positive direction for political reasons, ultimately damaging their credibility and harming the film and studio as many fans were put off from seeing the movie because of the obvious political bias of the reviewers.

              If it was merely about enjoyment, the Blue Tribe would spend much less time tearing down things which weren’t Blue Tribe. We’re the ones pushing ‘enjoyment’ as the criteria by which books should be evaluated.

              • Civilis

                Oh look! We’re just going again over the territory covered in https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2016/08/05/addressing-the-problem/#comments including comments by SpaceFaringKitten, who still has not stopped to answer the question “Have you considered the possibility that other people (the members of X, Y, and Z in Brad’s example) might simply enjoy different books than the members of W?”

                It’s not hard to find examples of people that haven’t considered that question, like the people Larry fisks in http://monsterhunternation.com/2016/08/08/fisking-the-latest-diversity-in-sci-fi-freak-out/#comments.

              • Civilis:
                If there are so many enjoyable books out there, and it’s so easy to find them, why was it so important to spend all this time pushing superficial diversity on Science Fiction?

                Oh, come on. Who on earth would waste their time “pushing superficial diversity in SF” instead of celebrating what they enjoy? Anyone who did that would be a ridiculous ass, wouldn’t they?

                As far as I can tell, a lot of SFF fans simply enjoy diversity in their books. It’s not about making a political statement, it’s about enjoying the kind of fiction you probably don’t enjoy yourself. That’s fine, but why demonize people who just happen to like different stuff?

                • Civilis

                  As far as I can tell, a lot of SFF fans simply enjoy diversity in their books. It’s not about making a political statement, it’s about enjoying the kind of fiction you probably don’t enjoy yourself. That’s fine, but why demonize people who just happen to like different stuff?

                  People demonstrably went out of their way to push superficial diversity in the Ghostbusters remake, and play up the superficial diversity angle in reviews of the remake. The movie suffered for it, and the money involved was a lot greater than what we’re talking about with any of these books. I’m not here to demonize people that liked the Ghostbusters remake, just to point out that the political angle to the film is definitely partially responsible for the money it lost. I’m also pointing out that the same trends that doomed the remake are visible elsewhere in the entertainment industry, including a backwater area like Science Fiction literature. You can deny it all you want and keep sticking your head in the sand, which you’ve done six times so far this thread.

                  You’re denying what should be obvious, and what we keep pointing out over and over: that Hugo voters are a small part of what could be considered science fiction fans, and the books they like are not representative of what actually sells. Those fans that aren’t represented have just as much right to be heard. People interested in the future of science fiction would be better served by reaching out to people that are already fans that enjoy different things rather than hoping some of those blue tribe people they’re trying to appeal by excluding non blue tribe fans will eventually become fans to make up for those they’ve alienated.

                  • I haven’t seen the new Ghostbusters (in fact, I haven’t seen the original either) and I know absolutely nothing about the franchise, so there’s not much I can say about that.

                    You’re denying what should be obvious, and what we keep pointing out over and over: that Hugo voters are a small part of what could be considered science fiction fans, and the books they like are not representative of what actually sells.

                    You’re pulling rather weird accusations out of thin air. Nowhere in this discussion or anywhere else have I said anything like that. Of course the couple thousand Hugo voters are only a small fraction of the global SFF fandom. Of course all books that win Hugos are not best-sellers (even though some are).

                    Those fans that aren’t represented have just as much right to be heard.

                    And who exactly says they don’t have a right to be heard (whatever that means)? Nobody.

                    • Oh my. Someone is forgetting all the times the Fans, as opposed to fans, have told us that the Hugos should not be voted on by anyone who has not put their time in the trenches, gone to the right cons and served on the right committees. We have seen those same Fans denigrate nominated works, not because of the quality of the work but because of the authors’ politics. We have been told that we shouldn’t read books by white male authors because of oppression.

                      We have panelists and speakers at cons tell us that if we don’t agree with them, we can leave their panels. We have panelists loose their cool and have people ejected for taking pictures of speakers. Not of cosplayers but of a speaker on a panel. And yet you say no one tells us we don’t have a right to be heard.

                      Or, when you say the fans have a right to be heard, you mean on everything except the Hugo and on panels where their opinions don’t match that of the Fans?

                    • Civilis

                      You’ve obviously felt it was important enough to come here and comment eight times in this thread alone, on a site where you are very clearly regarded as a troll (and that you are eight times in this thread without attempting to actually communicate anything should illustrate why you are regarded as a troll).

                      Civilis: You’re denying what should be obvious, and what we keep pointing out over and over: that Hugo voters are a small part of what could be considered science fiction fans, and the books they like are not representative of what actually sells.

                      Kitten: You’re pulling rather weird accusations out of thin air. Nowhere in this discussion or anywhere else have I said anything like that.

                      How else can anyone read your original statement, that different people enjoy different things? We know that. That’s the whole point. Yes, the people that vote for the Hugos vote for books they enjoy. Read the quotes that we’ve amassed from these people. There’s one that won’t read white people because they’re privileged. There’s another that insists that all books have to have characters outside the binary gender norms. Nobody’s telling them they can’t think that, but it puts them outside the realm of mainstream science fiction fans. Someone who spends worrying about what skin color the author of the story is (instead of how enjoyable a story is) isn’t making science fiction more enjoyable. You commented on a post of Brad’s, linked in this very thread, where Brad pointed this out.

                      We’re being told we can’t participate in the Hugos, despite the fact that the books we’re recommending are significantly more popular (as measured in sales figures) than the books that win awards. We’re told that what the millions of readers that vote with their pocketbooks enjoy doesn’t matter, because it doesn’t fit whatever mysterious quality (hint: it’s progressive social signaling) that makes books Hugo worthy. We’re told what we enjoy isn’t good, because good things come from minorities that happen to all be politically identical blue tribe members. Go back to the start of this whole mess: the SFWA kicked out people that weren’t politically blue tribe when it wouldn’t kick out a blue tribe member that raped and abused kids. And this keeps going on, as anyone that paid attention to the posts on this site about the most recent Worldcon would have noticed.

                      But of course, you can’t even read what you comment on, so of course you won’t spend any time researching and thinking for yourself.

                    • Civilis

                      The following is taken from a Slate article, http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2016/08/31/ghostbusters_vs_bad_moms_proves_that_politics_can_hurt_a_movie_s_bottom.html.

                      The weekend before Ghostbusters was released, our sister site the Cut wrote “Seeing Ghostbusters on Opening Weekend Could Actually Help Fix Hollywood Sexism.” Though the point was correct—Hollywood is in the business of repeating things that work—the piece also inadvertently contributed to a conversation about the movie that I would argue hurt its box office. When talking with comedy-minded female friends who skipped the movie, I kept hearing the same thing: A person’s position on the movie and his or her decision whether to see it, had come to feel like taking a political position. For moviegoers who consider lighthearted movies a chill thing to do after a stressful week of work—which is to say, most moviegoers—that’s not the sort of mind-set you want your expensive summer action-comedy to engender. Seeing Ghostbusters ceased to feel like a fun, breezy summertime decision.

                      It looks like somebody has come to realize exactly what we’ve been saying the whole time. If you’re creating or marketing something based on politics, rather than enjoyment, you’re going to have a bad time.

        • Why fret about sales figures? Because if they go down, fewer new authors are published, and publishing houses fade from esistence. Mind you, one occasionally encounters pieces of complete tripe, and wishes that the author and house could be improved.. I am reminded — author and title fortunately forgotten — of the abysmal book with the halfwitted idea that you could have a world like ours, and fifty year long winters. This idea does not survive exposure to the body mass of deer and turkey in New England over a long winter.

          • Of course, but fretting about the numbers makes nobody any good, does it? Neither does complaining about books you don’t like.

            If you want to make a difference, I suggest you buy the good books and make your friends buy them too. Maybe we can agree about that at least?

            • airboy

              spacefaringkitten:
              I believe that the marketplace has shown that until recently there was a huge underserved market. Baen came into existence and is profitably publishing a large number of titles annually that hit a previously underserved market. If the market did not exist, then people like Larry Correia, John Ringo, etc…. would not hit the top 10 or top 20 list on a regular basis.

              I concur with one of your comments – we have a lot more SF available than before. The addition of Baen & self publishing have offered a lot more alternatives.

              Yet some imprints who rely on a major publishing infrastructure (say Tor maybe) missed a huge profitable market – for decades. Why did they miss this so badly? My guess is insular politics overcame business sense.

              But stupid moves by major marketplace actors gives big opportunities to competitors.

            • Farley

              If you want to make a difference, I suggest you buy the good books and make your friends buy them too.

              Bolding mine. I find that a very telling remark, one that provides insight into the mindset of the entire SJW portion of the field.

              Make your friends buy stuff? What a good “friend” you are! If coercion is required, you’re not really doing them any favors now, are you? Just pushing your own views down their throats by force. Which is at core the entire problem with the Hugos. A purportedly “fan” award (though the mask has since come off that little bit of bull squeezings) that rejects works by very popular authors whose politics are not pre-approved, and often hands out awards to decidedly sub-par works that cram the “correct” politics down the reader’s throats . and, unsurprisingly, don’t sell nearly as well as the entertaining works by more popular authors.

              I don’t have to make my friends buy anything. I lend or recommend to them stuff I think they will like, they check it out or don’t and they make their own purchasing decisions without any coercion being involved at all.

              The Hugos have largely become an exercise by an insider clique promoting the things THEY think we MUST read, what THEY think MUST be important, while ignoring what the majority of readers actually enjoy reading.

        • kentuckydan

          “Why fret about some sales figures, man? ” Because they who do not can find themselves no longer selling anything, First Law of Business Pay attention to what they cash register tells you

    • Randy Wilde

      Have you considered the possibility that other people might simply enjoy different books than you

      If there’s anything that last year’s Breens… um, I mean Hugos… demonstrated, it’s that people enjoying different types of books is not to be tolerated. The “trufen” have declared total war, and that must be acknowledged.

    • Kate Paulk

      Seriously? That’s the best you can do?

      Listen, kitty, I know what psychological abuse looks like and I know what the aftereffects look like. I’ve been on the receiving end often enough to recognize it when I see it.

      Here’s a hint: when nothing you can do is good enough for someone, that person is trying to abuse you. If you wish to refute my claim, I suggest you provide me with evidence. Numbers. Facts. Cites.

      Prove that what counts as “not racist” in SF and Fantasy has not changed at all in the last 20 years. Prove that microaggressions were a thing 20 years ago.

      Prove that what’s considered sexist, racist or any other kind of bigoted hasn’t grown to consume more normal human behavior than it did 20 years ago.

      Over to you, kitty. Failure to provide evidence will be taken as a demonstration that you aren’t able to make an honest argument and therefore that my claim is true.

      • Uncle Lar

        Double check the numbers, but unless I’m mistaken the second place winners, you know the ones immediately below No Award, at the Hugos last year got more votes than the winners did in the same category in any preceding year. If that is not prima facia evidence of macro aggression against popular SF&F I really cannot imagine what is.
        And ejecting a panel moderator for expressing an opinion contrary to the current narrative seems to me to be ample proof that such aggression is condoned and even encouraged by the WorldCon hierarchy.
        Abusers, oh hell yes, and the only proven cure for such abuse is for the subject of their perfidy to remove themselves from harms way, sever all contact if at all possible. That does not in my estimation mandate that I eschew all of SF&F, just WorldCon and the public entities that enable such abuse to persist within its purview.

      • Don’t expect much. I’ve been having this exact argument with the children at Flopatron’s. Lots of sound a fury, signifying nothing.

        See, its all about quality, there’s no politics at all! Really! And Puppies are doody heads! One imbecile is saying puppy pics did NOT get booed and hissed at the awards this year and last. Nope, its all about the QUALITY!!1!

      • Huh? You demand me to provide proof of something that a) I didn’t say and b) has nothing to do with what I said.

        Obviously what people consider racist has changed in 20 years. Microaggression theory was coined (by a Harvard professor in psychology, if my memory serves) in 1970, so that has been around for nearly 50 years, though.

        The thing I disagreed on was your belief that some Hugo winners won even though they aren’t that good and voters didn’t really enjoy them. As far as I know, people enjoy different things. What evidence do I have to provide to back up this claim?

        • As far as I know, people enjoy different things. What evidence do I have to provide to back up this claim?

          Look, Shortbus, it’s cute that you claim ignorance and think you can just pretend you haven’t moved any goalposts, but cute only really works for kittens and babies. As an adult rhetorical strategy, it’s lacking.

          Flash back to WorldCon 2015. Remember that, a whoooooole long year ago? The Sad Puppies were saying “read all the works, and vote for what you judge best”.

          And we were tarred as Racist Evil McHatey-Hatersons for it.

          And what else happened last year, Shortbus?

          Why, that’s right!!! Instead of “voting for what they enjoyed”, thousands of Useful Idiots made sure that No Award swept several categories.

          They got their self-righteous hate hard-ons and made sure not that good stories won, but that the wrong stories didn’t.

          And that’s on top of ostentatiously making it “the year of the asterisk” (translation: even if the wrong books won, they wouldn’t “really” count, because of the asterisk), and the “asterisk” design was accidentally-on-purpose made to look like an asshole.

          Just. In. Case. We. Didn’t. Get. The. Point.

          Well, Shortbus, we got the point, loud and clear. You and yours will burn it all down rather than let the WrongFans have any victory.

          Got any other thunderingly stupid things to say?

          • Jason D. Fleming:
            Look, Shortbus, it’s cute that you claim ignorance and think you can just pretend you haven’t moved any goalposts

            And what goalpost is that, exactly?

            Flash back to WorldCon 2015. Remember that, a whoooooole long year ago? The Sad Puppies were saying “read all the works, and vote for what you judge best”.

            Two questions: First, why should Hugo voters take orders from you instead of deciding for themselves what strategies to make it into the shortlist are acceptable in their opinion? Second, how do you know who didn’t read the works and who did but hated the Puppy stuff? I personally read it, blogged about it and ended up voting all Puppy works except Jeffro Johnson under No Award.

            Why, that’s right!!! Instead of “voting for what they enjoyed”, thousands of Useful Idiots made sure that No Award swept several categories.

            I voted exactly what I enjoyed, and I suppose many other voters did the same.

    • “Have you considered the possibility that other people might simply enjoy different books than you…”

      I had, but there’s the new Code of Conduct to consider. “We reserve the right to kick people out for saying anything at all, no matter how benign or boring, if he’s a Puppy.”

      That ain’t about books.

    • Ah. More quotes from the Life of Brian from Spacefaringkitten. Are you from the Judean’s People’s front, the Populist Front of Judea, the Front of Popular People in Judea, or the Campaign for Free Galilee, in this distraction? And why did you massacre all the penguins? In other words: WTF does this have to do with the entire issue that has not been rehashed 500 times before? The Hugos claim to be a fan award for the best SF novel etc, at Worldcon – which gains what credibility it has from its name – as being a fan conference inclusive of the world. Therefore, like it or not, the short-list should closely mirror the earning shortlist, or it isn’t a representative measure of world-scale popularity among fans – but just the choice of an insular minority purporting that it is what it isn’t – i.e. ‘best in the world, as chosen by a representative selection of fandom’. If, however, you want to rename the award the Breens of TruFendom, no one would raise an eyebrow about your choices – or outside that insular group, know or care. You’re doing your best to achieve that.

      Now: instead of your usual derailment – lets have a straight answer: Are you just a fan (as you pretend to be) or do you, or your partner, or close friends have a vested interest in the Hugos and trying to maintain some semblance of legitimacy?

      • Dave:

        The Hugos claim to be a fan award for the best SF novel etc, at Worldcon – which gains what credibility it has from its name – as being a fan conference inclusive of the world. Therefore, like it or not, the short-list should closely mirror the earning shortlist, or it isn’t a representative measure of world-scale popularity among fans…

        I don’t think that an award can reflect anything else than the tastes of the voters.

        But did you mention earning shortlist? I’m just wondering what earning shortlist John C. Wright is on and Scalzi, Stross and other regular Hugo favorites are not… 😀

        Now: instead of your usual derailment – lets have a straight answer: Are you just a fan (as you pretend to be) or do you, or your partner, or close friends have a vested interest in the Hugos and trying to maintain some semblance of legitimacy?

        I, my partner and my close friends have no vested interest in the Hugos.

        • “I, my partner and my close friends have no vested interest in the Hugos.”
          Good. Then you will have no reason post your real name. Because I can see no reason to withhold it – or – if you insist on being anonymous, to believe you. Your comments are full of tracks to the contrary.

          “I don’t think that an award can reflect anything else than the tastes of the voters.” By that logic you imply they read the works being voted on. That, plainly was not the case with your little zombie horde. However, if that what you believe – then name it honestly. The Breen Award, the choice for trufen, seems accurate and appropriate.

          Don’t argue with me about John – I like his writing, think it deserves more notice. Argue with Vox Day. I suspect he still sells more than some of your darlings. Stross sells a tiny fraction of Gabaldon – yet she isn’t there. He doesn’t sell – judging by fan lines – anything like Butcher, or Flint or Weber or Pratchett or even Correia. But he’s one of your in-group, so he got nominated, repeatedly.

          Now run along to Vox Popoli and ask Vox Day why John Wright is there. Don’t come back without your real name and an answer.

        • Civilis

          I don’t think that an award can reflect anything else than the tastes of the voters.

          If anyone wanted proof that SpaceFaringKitten can’t read (or can and is trolling by pretending not to) it’s right here.

          When the awards were disproportionately awarded to white males, the people he’s defending didn’t say ‘well, the award reflects the taste of the voters’, they raised a stink. When a poorly executed survey found that minorities were under-represented in short-story sci fi anthologies, they didn’t say ‘well, the stories that were published reflect the tastes of the publishers’, they raised a stink, and Kitten even commented on an article discussing it, arguing against the guy that pointed out how hypocritical this was.

          To Kitten, the tastes of the voters are important when it involves awarding wooden assholes to people that don’t bow down blue tribe values, while the tastes of readers of science fiction as a whole is unimportant when it comes to determining what is the best science fiction and fantasy.

      • Khazlek

        I’m on board with the Puppies when they say that fiction that puts message ahead of story generally sucks. I’m on board when they say that nominating works on the basis of the author’s minority status is a ridiculous idea.

        I can’t say that I’m so much on board with the notion that the earnings short-list is the last word in quality. Sometimes books that sell well are good, but not always. Sometimes books that don’t sell well are bad, but sometimes they just didn’t find their market. There are a fair number of movies that are now considered classics that didn’t do well at the box office.

        Heck, I remember when the entire genre of SF was considered somewhat outlandish by most people. Going by that measure, the whole of SF wasn’t worthwhile.

        • I’ve obviously explained badly, Khazlek. What I was trying to say was that a fan award – to be credible HAD to be a book many people had read. Sales are really the only way of measuring that. A judged award is more about the potential market.

  11. It seems to me that there is a difference between liking different fiction and the wooden memorials. I believe the difference goes back considerably farther than a few years. Sometime around 1985-1990 the Boskone folks, some of them, fulminated against John Norman, while Norman was a welcomed pro visitor at Arisia, the other Boston convention.

    Also, the debate has become a bit heated.

  12. However, there is an intelligent solution — intelligent, so no chance of *that* being adopted. More awards. “Literary” science fiction. “Classical”: science fiction.

  13. And you may vote for one or the other, not both.

    • George, that works for me. They can even call one the Hugo (the finest literary sf) and the other the Junk ‘pulp garbage no Trufen would seen dead reading full of wrongthink’. and mutually exclusive voting and likewise exclude those who nominate in one from nominating or voting in the other, and I’m in. I reckon it’d be hard to find a Sad Puppy who wouldn’t — or a puppy kicker who would agree. They don’t want competition, and the last thing on on earth they want is competition they can’t control – or that might well end up being far more enduring and popular.

  14. The thing that strikes me is that a lot of people who were SMOFs in a good way, and who would probably have been very good at talking down any kind of craziness or uncivil convention behavior, have died in the last ten years or so. Some of them died comparatively young, or at least they weren’t terribly old; while others had lived a fair span and could be expected to have passed away.

    Lack of money and lack of enjoyment has kept me out of fandom for most of the last fifteen years or so, and so I hadn’t realized how many of the folks I admired as foundational, rock-solid, trustworthy convention runners and fannish herders of cats, are now dead.

    • vavu2009

      Most fans never get to go to cons, but that doesn’t make them any less fans than those who do. G R R Martin might not be interested in those fans, but his publisher is certainly interested in their money. If the con goers were really the totality of fandom, most authors would have to get jobs as Wallmart greeters.

      • Of course all fans are fans, and of course it’s not necessary to go to conventions to be a fan.

        In the olden olden days, organized fandom was important because the avid readers of science fiction (which was nearly always a matter of pulp magazine stories) needed to be able to find each other, and the magazine letter columns could not adequately replace the Internet (which had not been invented yet). Fandom was a network, a way of facilitating access to the people you needed to meet and the goods you wanted to buy.

        Once the Internet became available in most homes, and once science fiction and fantasy became mainstream, organized fandom really lost most of its usefulness. I see more Star Trek and Doctor Who and comics T-shirts every day at the store where I work (which doesn’t sell them) than I saw in huckster rooms at tiny conventions, back in the early 90’s. Costuming is a thing they show on Entertainment Tonight and on other news shows. Reading and video preference is not a cultural marker, except in a few religious or cultural minority areas.

        You don’t have to be Odd to have fannish qualifications or qualities or knowledge. It’s a normal thing. We all won.

        In the old days, the mark of a fan who was a decent member of the community was to welcome new people and help them find their feet, to point them at all the possibilities. The Puppy-Kickers basically reverse this, by trying to close themselves off from everyone new and different while claiming the opposite. The old SMOFs I knew were not the kind of people to put up with that kind of BS, much less the nastiness that has ensued from virtue-signalling.

        But you’re right that, in the end, Worldcon no longer matters. Heck, even Comicon and Dragoncon are just signs of the times. Nobody controls all the science fiction fans in the world, or in a country, or in any individual state or province or town. Fans are ubiquitous, to the point that they don’t have to call themselves fans or think about themselves as fans.

        The same thing is true of gamers. Everybody’s mom and grandma plays computer games, or at least a good chunk of them do. So what is distinctive about being a gamer now? Not much. Skill is distinctive, creativity of playstyle is distinctive, but in the end it’s just a normal human activity.

        We are everywhere. It is both a good thing and doesn’t matter. It just helps create more fun.

        • Civilis

          Books are almost a sideshow, at this point, but the mechanism which is distorting the book market is the same mechanism which is distorting the movie and video game market, which is why its important to fight to open up the market.

      • Khazlek

        Most SF authors do have day jobs.

  15. Jill

    Thanks for hosting Puppy Central, Kate. It was a pleasure meeting you and the other puppies. I’ll look forward to reading more of your take on the business meetings.

  16. I am starting to think that any Puppy venue should have video as part of preemptive self defense. Since the most recent Worldon has proven that they will lie in order to try getting away with their crap, as well as smear other people as they squirt ink… I do not find it a stretch of imagination that they will attempt this again.

  17. Face it.

    It’s about fun.

    That’s the bottom line. Unless you’re “in the business,” you are reading or using media for FUN.

    When it stops being fun…

  18. Khazlek

    And that leads me to my main observation: most – the overwhelming majority (I am nobly resisting the use of the word ‘vast’ here) – fans are decent, well-intentioned people being abused by a very small cadre of what could be described as hard-social-justice types.

    I try to look at this from the point of view of the overwhelming majority. If they aren’t following the ins and outs of blogs of the various actors what they see is that some people who called themselves Puppies managed through concerted action to put their selections on the ballot. They aren’t particularly aware of the kinds of Puppies, nor of their arguments. Nor are they terribly aware that most of the down ballot Hugo nominations used to involve so few votes that an author/creator could get a nomination just by getting two dozen friends on board. They pretty much see it as the same as when the Scientologists managed to nominate Battlefield Earth in 1983. I have sympathy for them.