It has been quite some time since I have felt the need to rip apart someone else’s blog post. Well, except when it comes to politics. Usually, I can step away from a blog I don’t agree with, telling myself that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. However, yesterday my attention was directed to a blog that was so filled with half-truths, inaccuracies and more that it left me no choice but to respond. The source material will be in italics, my comments will follow.
What Happened To The Sad Puppies? In 2015 the Sad Puppies were a presence in SF and in culture in general. In 2016 the Sad Puppies became almost a nonentity. All through the year it was the Rabids that drove the show and that hurt both the Sad Puppies And possibly the future of Sf in the long term.
Wow, I guess the OP forgot about the years leading up to 2015, years when Larry Correia led the SPs and had the other side foaming at the mouth. Years when the SPs were much more in your face than they were in 2015 under Brad Torgersen, who happens to be one of the nicest guys around. He forgot that, while Brad did engage with the other side, he did so only after he — and his family — were attacked. The OP also seems to have forgotten that Vox Day and his Rabid Puppies made their appearance in 2015, hijacking much of the movement and muddying the waters for so many who weren’t intimately familiar with what the SPs were after, leading people to think the two groups were basically the same. The OP also forgot that, no matter how hard Brad and others tried to make it clear SPs had nothing to do with RPs, it didn’t work. But, I guess if he mentioned that, it wouldn’t fit his narrative that Kate somehow failed.
Also, how in the hell did Kate and SP 2016 possibly hurt the future of SF in the long term? The Hugos are a non-starter for most fans of the genre. You walk into any bookstore or library and ask readers of the genre, or of any genre, if they could name a Hugo winner (or even a nominee) and the vast majority will be unable to. Those who can will probably tell you that they run from books that have won the award because those stories quit being entertaining years ago.
I think that the problem is that Kate Paulk, when she took over leadership didn’t understand what she was getting herself into. I think that she thought that if she had a more moderate approach that the kind of beating around that the Sad Puppies got in 2015 would be moderated. I’m not sure what led her to believe that, but there was.
Ah, here we go. The “I think” or “I believe” excuse so many bloggers and journalists — and I use that term loosely — use to avoid having to actually do their homework. Did the OP actually go to Kate to ask her if his “beliefs” were right? Nope. He did not. I guaran-damn-tee you that he not only didn’t talk to Kate but that he didn’t talk to any of the rest of us who know what her thought process was. I know because I am one of those who were involved in the discussions about who would take over the leadership of SPs last year and what tact should be taken. Kate knew quite well what she was getting into and she knew — and discussed with the rest of us — the approach she would take.
Then there was the launch of the Sad Puppies site, the nominations and then, nothing. For months no reviews, no blog entries, nothing. It’s not as if she was off line either. Yet for months she left the stage empty except for the Puppy Kickers and Vox. I’m not sure why but it may be that she was hoping to avoid conflict. Or she just got busy and could not give Sad Puppies the attention it deserved. Yet there weren’t even any blog posts on either the Sad Puppies blog or the Mad Genius Club.
First of all, SP has never been a 24/7, 365 day a year obligation. Second, there were posts on MGC. Third, I guess the OP thinks being online is the only way to get the message out. He seems to ignore the fact that Kate went to cons. She used face-to-face conversations to discuss with those who had been sitting on the fence, even those who opposed SPs in the past to get the message across. She showed that we weren’t all frothing at the mouth as we had been depicted. But that, too, doesn’t fit the OP’s narrative. Whether it is because he ignored her posts about what she was doing — as well as the guest post and comments by some of those she spoke with — I don’t know.
Here’s something else OP seems to ignore. The Sad Puppies movement was aimed initially at pointing out the bias in nominating and awarding the Hugo Awards. That takes place over a small portion of the calendar year. Kate announced Sad Puppies 4 officially on May 19, 216. However, a quick search of the MGC archives using only one key term and not the various short hands we have come to use for Sad Puppies, finds at least 2 more posts by Kate about Sad Puppies. But OP says she didn’t blog about them. Sigh.
So, in the interest of accuracy, I went to Brad’s site and looked to see when he announced SP3. His intorductory post is Jan 7, 2015. Kate announced SP4 September 2015. That would be some months sooner, in the grand scheme of things, than Brad.
OP then spends time, after saying Kate didn’t give us reviews, etc., quoting others who take issue with her reviews of the Hugo nominees. Kate did more than most who were telling people who to vote for. She read everything in the Hugo packet and gave her honest opinions. But that obviously isn’t enough, especially since OP quotes notoriously anti-puppy sites to back his stance.
Essentially as result of inactivity the Puppies left the field to Vox and “Raptor Butt invasion.” Which was funny for a while, but after a while you realize that it’s puppy butt that’s being invaded.
OMFG. I don’t know whether to beat my head against the wall or the OP’s. That statement is not that much removed from that of the other side telling SPs they had to denounce Vox or it proved we were all cut from the same cloth. One thing those of us closely involved with the Sad Puppy movement learned in 2015 is that there is nothing anyone can do to rein in Vox. We would have had Raptor Butt no matter what. Vox will do what he wants, when he wants and he doesn’t give a flying fuck who he bumps against in the process.
The problem is that if there any desire to keep the Hugo Awards as anything other than a pissing contest between the vilest people in SF, we Puppies failed miserably. The Rapids dominated the noms and the Kickers “No Awarded” every thing in sight, again. Both sides followed by crowing victory, when in fact everybody lost.
See, here is the biggest problem with OP’s post. He thinks that Sad Puppies is about saving the Hugos. It isn’t. I’m not sure it ever was. It was about showing how the Awards have been manipulated and ruled over by a very small group of Fans, folks who don’t want the unwashed masses joining in their little club. The Hugos were effectively dead, at least to most fans, long before Larry started Sad Puppies. It is in its death throes now. Don’t believe it? Look at the rules changes that are being proposed and those that have been passed. Fans with a capital “F” want to to make sure they continue to control the awards. Most real fans aren’t going to pay the price of even an associate membership just to vote. Why should they when they can buy a number of books for the same price?
I don’t know about you, but I would rather buy 8 – 10 e-books than spend money to be able to vote one time for an award where the inner circle thinks I’m not worthy of taking part.
The fact is that when you are in the culture wars you can never let up and you never, ever say you are sorry. I think that Kates more modest approach and attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable only fed the beast. The failure to create any buzz or even respond just made things worse. The biggest issue to me is that, for months, Kate never asked for any help, any blog posts, nothing. She embarked on no politicking and can’t find any evidence of any activity other than setting up a safe space at Worldcon for the yet again no awarded nominees. For her approach, in the end the Sad Puppies got nothing tangible, no respect, no handshake and no attempts to meet the Puppies half way. The fact is that in the end as little as I like to say this, it turns out that Vox and the Rabids were right.
Ah, there it is. He drank the kool-ade. Because he couldn’t find something, he assumed it wasn’t there. Again, he ignored the cons Kate went to and all the folks he talked with. He ignored the fact that she did exactly as she said she would and that many folks applauded her for it, people who never would have supported SPs otherwise. Why did they support us? Because we were the face of reason in a sea of insanity. But that doesn’t fit the narrative. Sigh, nothing any of us say will change his mind — as is obvious by his comment that it didn’t gain respect, handshakes, etc., and yet a simple search of comments here on MGC and in social media will show the opposite. But, I guess if you aren’t screaming it from the rooftops, it never happened.
At least the war was not only reliant on the efforts of the Puppies, either Sad or Rabid. Somebody took the Puppy Kickers advice to heart and with DragonCon, came up with awards that returned the emphasis to fans and readers rather than a small clique of people dependent on the fading traditional publishing and the poor stuff that they had been putting up for awards.
Here’s why I started laughing. OP has spent pages telling us how the Puppies failed under Kate to take the Hugos and save them. Now, all of a sudden, he has fled from the Hugos and is applauding the Dragon Awards. Note how he loves that the Dragons took the awards directly to the fans and away form a “small clique of people”. Yes, he added the descriptor they were dependent on trad publishing, etc., but let’s be honest. Sad Puppies is also a relatively small clique, at least when you look at the greater picture of how many people love the genre.
As far as this goes, the Hugos are dead, The Puppies didn’t kill them, they were dead when Larry started the Puppies. The Hugos were dead because nobody cared anymore. The Hugos died because the small clique that had expense accounts from their employers and could go to WorldCon after WorldCon nominated the kind of stuff that pulled further and further away from what the readers really wanted. That is death to an award that is supposed to represent the opinions of the readers. Unfortunately all the WorldCon types wanted was an echo chamber and little hood ornaments on their shelves to appease their egos.
So, if the Hugos are dead, why has the OP spent so much time condemning Kate? I’m confused.
Maybe if Kate had actually been more proactive things might have been different.
Oh, I get it now. He must think Kate is a necromancer. I guess she had some arcane power to revive an award he said was dead even before Larry started the Sad Puppy movement. Wow! I never knew Kate had that sort of power. Apparently, she could have saved the Hugos in one year when a best selling author and the Powder Blue Care Bear with a Flame Thrower couldn’t in 3 years.
If only she had asked for more help if she thought she needed it, if even to just keep up a weekly Sad Puppies blog post. I’m sure that there were those of us who would have been willing to do more. In the end though, I doubt that any minds would have been changed. So let Vox continue his games, that is if he hasn’t found bigger targets to play with. In any case, like so much that the progressives have taken over, the Hugos and what was the science fiction establishment are dying. The plain fact is that what they had to sell, nobody wanted to buy. They should have read their Heinlein and tried to understand what he was talking about when he said, :”We are writing for Joe’s beer money and Joe likes his beer. It’s our obligation to give him at least as much fun from our books as he’d get from a six pack.”
Ah, here we are again with the vague assumptions and passive-aggressive condemnations. I ask again, if the Hugos were already dead and a best selling author could not save them in 2 years of battling with the powers that be, what was Kate supposed to do in a single year? Why weren’t these criticisms leveled against Larry or Brad for not saving the Hugos?
The puppy kickers have forgotten, in the corporate, commoditized, NYC bubble that they live in, that simple fact. Science fiction fails when it tries to be something it’s not. Much of the old pulp stuff is available online for free and before sneering at what the Puppies were talking about, the kickers should read the stuff that already has met the “six pack test.” The fact is that there’s a lot of competition for that beer money and if Joe doesn’t like what you are plumping out at eight bucks a pop, Joe is putting his money some place else. That’s the essence of the Puppy message and that’s what the Puppies need to keep repeating. We need to do better, much better next time.
This one paragraph is something I can agree with, mostly. Yes, the other side should read and figure out why we love those old stories. There is an entertainment factor they have forgotten about, just as they have forgotten that the Hugos were meant to be a fan award. Instead, they want it to be a literary award. They have worked for years to make it one. That is what is killing the award.
Whether the OP wants to admit it or not, the Sad Puppies movement has won. It brought attention to a number of authors who never would have made the Hugo nominee list. SP4 was particularly good about it by opening the process up and letting people post their recommendations to the list — something that went on for months before Hugo nominations opened.
Ask yourself this. What is more important: reclaiming an award that means nothing to most fans of the genre or expanding the awareness of the genre and authors within it to those fans and to bring in new fans in the process?
It is so very easy to sit back and criticize someone when you haven’t walked in their shoes. Kate announced from the beginning what she was going to do. She was going to have an open and transparent process where people recommended works they felt should be nominated for the Hugos. She collected those recommendations on the website and then collated them and presented those with the most recommendations for everyone’s consideration. She used social media to promote SP4 and she took the hits, and there were many, from the other side. She spent her own money to go to cons and make the case for SP4 in person.
No one who has been involved behind the scenes with Sad Puppies thought it would be a quick skirmish. Far from it. The question has always been, can the Hugos be saved with a sub-question of “should they?”. I’m not sure they can be saved, whether we think they should be or not. As long as a small group of Fans think they are better than the fans who put money into the pockets of authors and artists, as long as they refuse to admit indie published works can be as good — or better — than traditionally published works, and as long as they refuse to admit that the Hugos were meant to be a fan award, they will continue to disenfranchise most fans of the genre.
Sad Puppies 1 – 3 beautifully pointed out, and proved, the pettiness in Fandom. Sad Puppies 4 continued what Brad started with Sad Puppies 3, the ourtreach to those fans who didn’t understand what was going on. Fans who had been drawn in by the outrageous rhetoric from the other side started looking closer at Sad Puppies when Brad and his family were attacked. They started listening closer when Kate engaged only when she was forced to. So explain how, when Kate reached out and made connections with people how had never before considered backing the Sad Puppies, she failed in her job?
There is more to this battle than whipping out your dick and proving it is bigger than the other guy’s. Kate understood that. We should be thanking her for taking on the job instead of condemning her because she didn’t do “the job” the way someone else wanted her to.
Before anyone starts throwing stones at this post, be sure you aim them at me. I’m springing this on my fellow MGCers at the same time I spring it on you.