Sad Puppies 5 and recommendation lists

Sigh. There are mornings when it really doesn’t pay to get out of bed. Or perhaps I should learn not to look at my phone as soon as I get up. What usually happens when I do is that I see something on social media that sends my blood pressure rising and has me racing for the keyboard to fire off a response. Yeah, yeah, I know. It sounds sort of like what the president-elect must act. At least I don’t do Twitter.

Anyway, this morning, the BP rising bit came in the form of a private message from a friend of mine. We are in a number of groups together on Faceplant. In one of those groups, someone had posted a notice with the header of “Sad Puppies 5 Suggestions.” Now, that got my eyes open real quick because the person posting it wasn’t Sarah and, the last I heard – which was last night – Sarah was the one coordinating SP5. So, with coffee starting to brew, I figured I’d go see what I had missed overnight.

That was my second mistake. I should have realized what a mistake it would be. After all, the friend who left me the PM is one of the most even-tempered and nice people I know. The fact he was upset should have warned me that this was not going to end well. See, this is what happens when I try to function pre-coffee.

So, if you woke around 0630 CST to the sound of loud thumping, I apologize. That was me pounding my head against the wall. After reading the post my friend warned me about, I saw why. And I saw red. And I made the mistake of taking to Faceplant to write a response – still before coffee. I should have waited. Then I could have made a more detailed response, complete with link. As it was, it took a couple of posts and I’m still not sure I got my point across.

No, let’s be accurate. I know I didn’t get my message across. Or, to be more accurate, I may have but certain folks didn’t want to hear it. And that, my friends, is a problem and one we don’t need to be dealing with.

So, let’s be very clear. The New Year is here and with it comes the time when we need to start thinking about the books we read and whether we feel they are worthy of being nominated for any of the various awards being offered this year. Be it the Hugo, the Dragon, the Rita or whatever, it is something we need to keep in mind and, if we are so moved, we need to nominate them for the appropriate award(s).

It also means we are going to start seeing folks saying they are “making a little list”. Some will follow through with their lists and keep a running tally. Others will simply have a single post where you can add your comments. What they do is up to them – up to a point. However, when they start implying they are involved with something they aren’t, or when they seem to be stepping up and taking control of something they have not been involved in, then they have crossed the line.

So I will start by saying to be careful about where you leave your recommendations. Read very carefully what the OP is saying he or she will do and judge what their motivations might be. If their post comes across as implying they are with a certain group or cause, verify. That is especially true when someone – Sarah, in this case – has said she is in charge of SP5 and now, suddenly, someone who has been on the fringes at best is suddenly implying they are preparing the SP5 recommendation list.

One of my fears is that folks will post their recommendations on a site they think is associated with a group or cause and then get upset when they find their way to the official site and realize their recommendation isn’t there. That is especially true when someone takes to Facebook and says it is time to start getting those Sad Puppy recommendations in and then says he is starting a list for folks to contribute to. The implication is there for folks to make that he is part of the leadership of SP5 and his list is “official”. It isn’t.

With that said, Sad Puppies 5 will be getting off the ground very soon with a new website, a blog and more. Sarah A. Hoyt – yes, our Sarah – is running it this year. (The only reason the site isn’t up already is because she has been ill and has had a deadline to meet.) The official SP5 site will be the only place where recommendations for the various lists SP5 compiles will be accepted. If you go to anywhere else and they claim to be speaking for SP5, they aren’t. Not unless Sarah has specifically announced it here, on her blog or on the SP5 site.

Does that mean others can’t support the Puppies and still have their own lists? Absolutely not. But I am asking them to think before posting. After all, we ran into the problem of people becoming confused when Vox came out with Rabid Puppies. The names were too close. There was an overlapping of recommended titles. The result was that Sad Puppies got painted with the same brush as Rabid Puppies and not because of the titles recommended but because of how some folks felt about Vox.

Our biggest hurdle this year isn’t going to be name recognition. It is going to be avoiding clouding the water. We have already had one blogger talk about how he had been involved in the Sad Puppy movement, leaving the impression he had been on the inside when he had not. Now we have someone else leaving the impression that they are collecting recommendations for the SP5 list. That sort of thing is counter-productive. It will only wind up confusing people and, in some cases, upsetting them when they find out they weren’t giving their recommendations to the official Sad Puppy list.

One of the biggest lessons anyone following the Sad Puppy movement over the years should have learned is that perception is everything. So what I’m asking, as someone who is helping Sarah this year and who will be taking over for SP6, is that we do everything we can to make sure there is no confusion over what the Sad Puppy movement is, what it stands for, who is officially in charge of it this year and where the official list is being collected.

So, to be clear, Sad Puppies 5 is under the guidance of Sarah A. Hoyt. Until the new site is up to date, any recommendations for the SP5 lists can be posted at last year’s site (give me a couple of hours to set up a recommendation page). I promise the information will be migrated over to the new site as soon as it goes live. Anyone else claiming to be collecting information for SP5 or speaking for it is misspeaking at best.

And, yes, this post has been run past Sarah before I took it live. She has approved everything said.


  1. One wonders if it could be a false flag operation. Could the poster be collecting names of works to be down-reviewed if they begin to get a little traction? The nutcasery and asshattery on the Other Side has been intense enough in recent years that I wouldn’t consider it impossible.

    1. No. If it’s the post I’m thinking of, he is not running a false flag operation. He just got a little excited.

      1. Aimee, more than a little excited. Excited is one thing. Continuing to step on toes — or at least do things without asking those in charge if it’s okay — is something else.

      2. Considering he’d offered help himself and by proxies more than a dozen times or offered to take over because I was ill, or– and been told no, he was a little more than overexcited. And cost me a morning of writing as I pounded my head on the desk.

    2. No. This person has tried on more than one occasion to push himself into the process this year. Sarah turned down his help because she already has her support team in place to help her, including folks to do programming to make the collection of the data easier. In this case, I find myself wondering if he either doesn’t pay attention to what others say or if he thinks if he keeps saying something often enough, it will become true.

      1. “if he either doesn’t pay attention to what others say or if he thinks if he keeps saying something often enough, it will become true.”

        Sounds like a Leftist to ME.

      1. As long as your willing to share whatever pills are making you feel that way, its all good. 🙂

      2. So expect the ‘where Kate did a good job, Sarah is doing a terrible job’ sorts to be saying ‘where Sarah did a good job, Amanda is doing a terrible job’?

        Got it.

    1. OP is Original Poster. (I think) It’s become a popular acronym to say look at what the original person posted, instead of depending on the chain of responses for interpretation. Kind of like the way this thread took off on your congrats, and dropped the request for translation.

  2. I have a couple of books to recommend. Who do I send them to, to read and decide whether to recommend them for SP?

    1. All you need is for someone who has read and liked them to post a recommendation. As far as I know, there is no formal “submission” process, but Sarah can clarify that when she has time (she is finishing a book today).

  3. To point out the bloody obvious, we’d have been tarred by the same brush they used on Vox no matter what he named his slate.

    This would have happened even if Vox and his list hadn’t even existed.
    As is evident from the years prior to Vox Day becoming involved with the Hugos.

    1. Yup. Vox and the Rabids just made it easier. They could keep saying all sorts of nasty things about “the Puppies” without bothering to distinguish between the factions. As they will doubtless start doing the moment they see this post linked at a certain site . . .

      1. Which makes no difference at all, because they’d act the same way without an excuse. As Larry and Brad already proved.

        Don’t blame nominal allies for the actions of enemies.
        Agency. Our opponents have it. Hold them accountable.

        1. The enemy in this case is not the target. The onlookers are, and they need to be convinced. Anything that makes this harder (eg. the Vox confusion) is detrimental to us.

          1. You’re presupposing that there’s a significant number of disinterested observers concerned about the Hugo awards.
            There aren’t.

            The only people who give a flying rat’s patootie are already convinced, and have already chosen sides.

            1. Except you are narrowing the scope of Sad Puppies now. It isn’t just about the Hugos. It is about the Dragons as well. It is also about simply getting the word out to anyone who is interested about books that are well-written and fun to read. The Hugo fight was won long ago. Larry did that. The other side put the nail in the coffin of the Hugos with their ass*terisk award.

          2. Exactly. Yes, we were attacked when Larry headed Sad Puppies. But, when Vox started Rabid Puppies, it did more than muddy the water. It threw blood and chum in them. Before, it was mainly accusations that we wanted non-worthy books. Well, that is a matter of opinion. But once Vox entered the fray, we became Nazis and anti-everything that wasn’t white and male and, in some instances, Mormon, at least to hear the other side.

            It is imperative that we keep the message clear and raise no confusion among not only those who already support the Sad Puppies but those who are still on the fence. That means making sure they know exactly who is running the official collection of recommendations. It means they need to be directed to the official site which, until SP5’s site is up, is

            1. Whether Vox threw his hat in the ring made no difference; they would have been flinging Nazi | homophobe | racist | cis-whatever soon enough anyway.

              1. The difference is that Mr. Beale wanted them to grossly libel their opponents, because that is red meat and strong beer to him. His goal from the beginning was to pour gasoline on the Hugos and then incite the ‘trufan’ crowd to strike matches.

                The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend, or even your ally. His goals may be diametrically opposed to yours.

                1. In this case, his goals are the same.
                  To break the stranglehold the SJWs had on the genre.
                  It’s done.
                  All that’s left is to mock them into irrelevance.
                  And look, be there with us on that one as well.

                  1. Actually, his goals are NOT the same. Part of the Sad Puppy goals is to show those who are not invested in the process that there is more than just the drivel out there that would appear to be the case, if the Hugo Awards were ACTUALLY representative of the best in Science Fiction. Think about it – if the Hugos represent the BEST, and they are dreck, then what is the REST of the field like?

                    But by being lumped in with Vox, those kinds of people get driven away before even attempting to see what else is available.

            2. I distinctly remember Larry being called a racist, a bigot, and a homophobe long before Vox got involved.
              Any escalation was not due to Vox, but due to their increasing desperation as we beset them.
              They used every tool they could, and wound up having to destroy their precious rather than see us sieze it from them.
              Then The Dragon made them irrelevant.

              Were the positions reversed, they would destroy us without hesitation. They would not grant us quarter, and have not asked for quarter. Stay not thy hand, and slay them where they stand.

              1. Were the positions reversed, they would be unable to destroy us, as we are unable to destroy them. This is not warfare. The object is not to kill the enemy. No matter how many times you kill them with your tongue, they always remain alive, and angrier than before.

                I should have thought this was perfectly obvious to anyone.

            3. Amanda, if I may suggest, I think you are worrying too much.

              There have been no shortage of cretins out there calling Larry, Sarah, Kate and yourself all the same names they call Vox. They were doing it before Vox decided to ride your coat tails, they’ll keep doing it if he disappears.

              Indeed, I don’t believe it matters a damn what you guys say or do. The SJWs will call you a racist no matter what. Stupid authors will object to being on the SP5 list no matter what. Vile 666 will stir the pot no matter what.

              Screw ’em. You and Sarah should do what -you- want to do with SP5, at -your- convenience. If some toadstool is running a fake SP5 site, just name him and shame him.

              For my part, I will recommend books I like, on the SP5 site, when its ready. Until then, relax and enjoy the schadenfreude. It is pipping hot and yummy.

  4. Let’s be blunt. A certain individual was highly critical of our dear Kate and her gentle treatment of SP4. She wasn’t in your face enough for his liking. So he tried to horn in, as I recall actually suggested combining forces with Vox, and in general stuck a stick in a very carefully thought out process and tried to stir things up. (Family blog so I said stick instead of what I really meant.)
    In truth, Sad Puppies accomplished everything it set out to do in all its incarnations. First proving that the game was rigged, then that two or more could play that way, and finally that the Hugo Awards were so corrupt that the entire concept was as good as dead. Long live the Dragon Awards.
    That we even have a SP5 is in the main to keep this ham handed clueless individual and his cluster of minions from royally screwing with the SP premise, aiding Vox in his jihad, and giving the puppy kickers ammunition to attack their detractors and claim virtuous victimhood.

    1. I saw that.
      I thought he was a butthead. (To put it kindly. As you said, Family blog.)

      But ultimately, he’s also right.
      Being conciliatory towards avowed enemies is self-defeating.
      And the puppy kickers will attack their detractors and claim victimhood regardless of what we do, as they have amply demonstrated during each of the four previous campaigns. (And in any number or arenas before and since.)

      1. The thing is, Luke, we aren’t going to be able to change their minds. We aren’t trying to. What we are doing is trying to reach out to those fans who haven’t had a stake in the fight. Those who long ago gave up on the Hugos — and, with regard to other genres, other awards as well. If we let ourselves be dragged down into the mire with the name-calling, etc., that has been aimed at us, we look just as bad to those who we are trying to win over. I don’t know about you but I do not want to push them away.

        1. The problem is, “win them over to what?”

          That the Hugos are the plaything of an insular clique peddling crap and calling it caviar?
          We’ve already proven that beyond the possibility of doubt.

          That this inbred clique of provincial idiots would rather see their plaything destroyed than give up power over it?

          That this unholy cabal of SJWs knows nothing about the genre they wish to dominate.

          That this cluster of pathetic weasels actively hates the fans of the genre?

          That a genuinely popular award would return a completely different and better bunch of stories?

          That the SJWs can be safely mocked?

          1. The message we must get across is quite simple. That the claim that the Hugo Awards represent the finest of the year in Science Fiction and Fantasy is not now and has not for several years been remotely true.
            That’s the real sin here, the claim by a small cadre of literary snobs that what they gamed into the award process were good entertaining stories when in truth they were poorly crafted message fiction with a heavy handed liberal progressive bent.
            Readership of our genre is falling drastically. The other side blames competition from other media when much of the true fault is due to their insistence that the drivel they shove down our throats is what we really should want to read.

            1. It’s hardcores vs. casuals. In gaming, once the hardcores get the ear of the designers, to the point where designers tailor their wares to the hardcores, the casuals run off. Catering to hardcore is a death sentence for sales, but it’s a common mistake, because they are usually the loudest voices as well.

              The WorldCon crowd are the hardcores, and, because many of them are the publishers, their tastes are the ones catered to. And, yes, sales have gone out the window as a result. The problem is that these hardcores, with their poorly crafted message fiction with a socialist bent, have essentially ran science fiction since the 1940s, (An examination of the editors of the 1940s, the Futurians who revolted in the 1950s, and the founders of SFWA and Clarion show a lot of common names.) As a result, science fiction has consistently had readership struggles – and also consistently has resisted efforts to appeal to mass audiences. The brands and magazines that thrived in the times of constant crisis were the ones who sought adventure as opposed to conforming to hardcore tastes for message fic.

              What both Puppies have shown is that their tastes are more casual friendly than the WorldCon crowd’s, and in line with the successful video games, tv and movies, and anime and manga that now represent science fiction to the wider audience. We build audiences instead of driving them away.

              1. The Futurians were a pre-WW2 group. There was extensive coverage of this, including a long article by the next-to-last living Futurian, in Fadeaway and in The National Fantasy Fan in 2015-2016. In the 1950s and 1960s a significant chunk of SF was run by John W Campbell Jr, who was very certainly not a left winger. The notion that the 40s and 50s were dominated by left-wing hardcores is incomplete, unless you count Heinlein and Doc Smith as socialists.

                In my observation, SF sales appeared to peak in the 70s or 80s; I am less clear on what has happened since. I suspect that book sales in dollars have done respectably well, thanks to Rowling.

                Having said that, I read The Fifth Season, and have done a review for the next issue of the N3F Tightbeam magazine. I did not say that the review was favorable.

  5. Only semi-off topic: speaking of family blogs, is there a suitable G rated version of “half-@ssed,” or “p-ss poor?” I had to find one on no notice yesterday and couldn’t really think of one.

    1. half-baked, shoddy, jerry-rigged is probably unacceptable these days, but “jerrrys” are white, so it might be OK.

  6. Speaking only for my humble self, I have always thought Sad Puppies was nothing more than showing up and stating my preference. Instead of grumbling every time some objectionable piece of trash wins an award, I got to participate! Buy a membership, nominate books I like, and then vote.

    Whatever wins, I don’t care. I’m a weird guy, nobody likes the stuff I like. I’m used to it. But this time I showed up. I said “I like -this- book,” and then voted. Now I’m happy.

    All this other sh1t about “strategic voting” and “gaming the system”, that’s the SJW thing. Winning at any cost, that’s how they roll. Freaking out, changing the voting rules specifically to exclude -me- and others who just showed up to express a preference, smearing people’s good names, trying to damage their livelihoods for daring to even show up, that’s their way.

    We don’t have to do anything special. We don’t have to raise a vast horde and crush them. We don’t have to cleverly penetrate the bureaucracy like a pack of ninja accountants. We don’t have to rant and smear and cheat and riot like they do.

    All we have to do is show up, nominate and vote. They will keep right on punching themselves in the face as hard and fast as they can, right out here in the open where everybody can see them doing it.

    1. Cranky Kittens, Worrisome Weasels, Adventurous Armadillos…

      I figured by this time there would be a dozen forks of the Sad Puppy movement. But other than Vox, who has somewhat different reasons than SF, there simply don’t seem to be enough people who care about Worldcon or the Hugos. Which, considering it lost any relevance to reality two generations ago, is hardly surprising…

      1. Cranky Kittens, Worrisome Weasels, Adventurous Armadillos…

        Oh, it that the new coll, pardon, kewl thing to do now? Form ones own special not-really-SP group/list/whatever?

        Hrmm… Calamitous Cattle? Bogus Bovines? Out of sorts Oxen? Mournful Moos?

        Oh wait, I’m not about to actually do any such thing. Still, provides some amusement.

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