Aug. 26th, 2015

dexfarkin: (wrong on the net)
So the Hugos have been awarded this weekend, and as predicted, the Puppies overestimated their echo chamber and were soundly trounced by the rank and file over at Worldcon. It wasn't exactly a hard outcome to see. Worldcon has always, always reacted harshly against overt attempts to game the Hugo system for someone's advantage. It didn't hurt that the people involved were not only joyously obnoxious in their success in gaming the nominations, but happily admitted that much of the work was there solely because they thought it would 'piss off the SJWs'. The level of bad faith was high and open, galvanizing many of the voters to adopt a scorched earth tactic.

GRRM hosted what was apparently a lovely Hugo losers party at a private location, giving out his own 'Alfies' - satirical awards for people who had been pushed off the nominations by the slate voting, people who had declined the tainted nominations and those who had taken much of the brunt of the Puppies ire.

This has, predictably, turned into more grist for the outrage mill as the various Puppy leaders have promised to not only double-down on the slating for 2016, but have also stated that they will not ask authors about being included in the slate. They will nominate who they choose to nominate. It's a pretty obvious gambit; some of the people who will be on the slate will be 'notorious' SJWs and the Puppies will demand that anyone who doesn't remove themselves is demanding a double standard and lacks moral authority. It's a sad ploy for sad, petty people.

How did the Puppies go down the drain so quickly and so completely? Having been following this for months, I have a few thoughts.

1. They believed Larry Correia's bullshit about a cabal controlling the nominations. Despite failing to identify works that won Hugos solely for ideological purity or that favoured TOR, the Puppies bought into the story that the nominations were fixed, had always been fixed, and that people like Correia (who writes successful and modestly entertaining fantasy) have been excluded because they hold strong right-wing political views and are Mormon/Catholic. By taking this as a fact, as opposed to looking at other factors, they immediately hamstrung themselves as a cultural reaction, as opposed to their talking points about 'good, overlooked and deserving' sci-fi. Every time they were challenged, they ran back to this faulty and easily dismissed point, ruining any chance of being looked at as a serious response to an issue.

2. They cooked their own nomination process. Torgersen claims that it was an open process, but it was admitted that all of the recommendations that they solicited were not part of the actual process of winnowing down nominees. They was done in a closed session by Correia, Torgersen, Sarah Hoyt, Jim C Wright and Theodore Beale (I refuse to use the pompous Vox Day for him). In several cases, authors were contacted as presumptive nominees without even having any specific work in mind, such as the now notorious worst nomination in Hugo history for 'Wisdom From My Internet'; a collection of crank ultra-right memes and jokes which skew heavily into racist, sexist and homophobic grounds, from Michael Z. Williamson - best known for being incapable of being caught on camera without holding a gun of some type. So many of the works ranged from mediocre to flat out bad that it was impossible for a moment to buy into the claims that they were good faith nominations and 'all about good work'.

3. They decided to start from point 1 as their justification, insulting Worldcon fandom. Torgersen's manifesto stated specifically that the Hugos had morphed into an 'affirmative action' award, insulting dozens of nominees and winners of the last decade with the implication that they owed their recognition solely to their status as women, people of colour, LGQBT, or writing diverse works focusing on such same characters. They immediately began to deny and lament that people's reaction to an ugly racist, sexist and homophobic statement was to call them racists, sexists and homophobes. Sci-fi has certainly had issues with race and gender over the years, the Imfamous RaceFail being one example. But the central value of the Hugos has been because it has been awarded so many times to work and to authors which become prominent examples of the best in sci-fi. Telling the community that awards it that they're doing it as a PC sop at the hands of a cabal is heaping insults on insults, and then wondering why no one believes they came in good faith.

4. Along this many path came their tunnel-vision of lumping everyone who is not a Puppy as an Anti-Puppy, Puppy-Kicker, or CHORF, which in my opinion stands for Torgersen can't come up with a decent insult that doesn't sound like it was dreamed up in grade school. In doing so, the wide sweeping insults caught more fans, especially those who had committed to reading the nominees with an objective eye, if possible. There were many reasons to opposed the Puppies, as individual as each fan. By ignoring that, they gave more reasons to object to them, further inflated by the fact that so many of the works in the package were considered barely publishable, much less Hugo worthy. The 'othering' is a classic GamerGate tactic, which was to create this mythical group of 'SJW's that had united against the GG crowd, and thus could be held accountable for any negative response. It's not surprising that the Puppies and GG crowds had a significant overlap in terms of people.

5. Finally, they brought in Beale. It is important to understand that Beale is, at best, a borderline sociopath. He craves chaos and anger as a way of validating himself as his skills as a writer and editor are negligible at best. He's been humiliated numerous times on-line trying to assert himself as some kind of Alpha Male symbol, closely connected with GG, MRA and PUA communities. One of only two people ever kicked out of the SWFA, he has constantly prowled around the edges of fandom with a group of willing idiots, doxxing and threatening at will. He has used family money (his father made a fortune in software before going to jail for tax evasion and later conspiracy to commit murder. It is believed that Beale lives abroad as the IRS believes he specifically helped get part of the family fortune out of the States) to fund a vanity publishing house. Tying his own Rabid Puppies slate on to the Sad Puppies, he managed to push his pet books and authors on to the slate. The difference between Beale and Correia's group is that it is doubtful Beale believes that there's a cabal. He feels the fandom itself is full of SJWs and his goal is to cause pain to them, burning down the awards if possible. He's cynically rode the Puppies, especially Jim C Wright, into increasingly extreme positions, egging them on from his perch. It is believed he even paid for Wright's flight to Worldcon, which was a humiliating experience which seems to have badly affected Wright, as well as his relationship with his publisher TOR.

In all the roundups, which on the Puppy side have been varying levels of insane wroth, self-pity, self-martyrdom and specifically in Wright's case, apparent career suicide, terms are war-like and hyperbolic. They will burn everything down. They've been persecuted because of their conservatism and are unsafe at cons (ignoring that it was a Puppy author who contacted Spokane police about the guest of honour David Gerrold), that the 'socialist-cock sucking whores' have taken over, etc. They have vowed that the fight will continue next year, in greater numbers.

It's a pretty sad spectacle. Correia and Torgersen were Campbell nominees, which is a pretty good indicator that there would have been a future nomination for their work at some point. Instead, they've made themselves toxic to a wide group of people. Correia is successful enough that he likely doesn't need to worry, but authors like Hoyt, Torgersen, and Wright are C-list; jobbing genre writers who occupy niche elements of an already niche market. All they've accomplished is to give wider fandom a reason to avoid them and that sinking in has only reinforced the need to believe that it is all a small cabal of horrible SJWs from TOR and Making Light, because if not, they have badly over-estimated their own market and under-estimated the volume of customers they have lumped into the same category with their insults.

In any case, while I expect a winter full of nasty posts, false equivalences regarding horrible SJW scandals and lots of victim claims that they were the honest, aboveboard honourable ones from the start, I can't see Sad Puppies 4 having the same impact. Beale will of course run a hard slate in 2016, no doubt believing himself to be clever by nominating a few of his mortal enemies like John Scalzi and daring him to refuse the nomination or be guilty of a double-standard. But even the Sad Puppies claim that they will nominate their choices regardless of the wishes of the author undermines them from the start, and I can see their impact strongly reduced. As for Beale, the EPH nomination changes will dilute his power to slate significantly, leaving him to decide whether investing in a single nomination in each category that will certainly finish below no award is worth it.

There was a point made at File 770 (Or as the totally not unhinged and irrational Torgersen calls it 'Pravda 770') that the basis of fandom in any place is a shared love for the material. No matter how negative and low the puppies go, the reality is that rage is not endlessly sustainable, and when it burns out, the people who are there because they love sci-fi will continue on, as will the Hugo.

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