I have to hand it to those goons who made up a slate of ‘conservative’ science fiction and slammed it into the Hugo nominations: I’d had this vague assumption that science fiction fans would be generally progressive and tolerant and even enthusiastic about different ideas. The Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies have enlightened and disillusioned me.
Well, actually, it’s been the other side that has brought me awareness. While slapping down the misconceptions of the Vox Day ilk, I’ve been taught so much. For instance, Jeet Heer reveals the dark side of SF professionals. I did not know this about John Campbell; he had an interesting reason for rejecting Samuel Delany’s story, Nova.
John W. Campbell, the contentious and influential editor of Analog, claimed he enjoyed shaking up his audience with outrageous ideas, but Nova proved too much for him. According to Delany, Campbell called the author’s agent and said that while he liked the novel “he didn’t feel his readership would be able to relate to a black main character.” Campbell’s contention that fans weren’t ready for a book like Nova was belied by the fact that it was shortlisted for a Hugo in 1969.
Campbell used his audience as cover for his own racism. In 1968, he penned an editorial endorsing the segregationist George Wallace for president. Earlier, he had published editorials arguing that slavery was a perfectly sensible system for pre-industrial societies, championing the racial theories of William Shockley and asserting, “One of the major reasons the Negro people are having so much trouble gaining acceptance is, simply, that the Negroes are not doing an adequate job of disciplining their own people, themselves.” Tellingly, among the few occasions that Campbell did allow fiction with black protagonists, it was in a series involving race war in Africa.
Wow. So I’ve been reading a genre that has in part filtered out a significant set of contributions? That’s good to know.
As for the Puppies, there have been some revelations emerging.
The Puppies are busily trying to delete things off the internet (we all know that’s virtually impossible to do, but the effort at a coverup tells us everything we need to know about you.) John C. Wright has apparently been trying to hide the evidence of his temper tantrum over a program showing two women holding hands.
You are disgusting, limp, soulless sacks of filth. You have earned the contempt and hatred of all decent human beings forever, and we will do all we can to smash the filthy phallic idol of sodomy you bow and serve and worship. Contempt, because you struck from behind, cravenly; and hatred, because you serve a cloud of morally-retarded mental smog called Political Correctness, which is another word for hating everything good and bright and decent and sane in life.
Ooops. There’s another copy on the internet now.
Another thing the two Puppies have been up to that is transparently false is putting up a pretense that the Sad Puppies are moderates, and it’s those wicked Rabid Puppies that are the extremists. But all the evidence says that the two groups were coordinating every step of the way. There aren’t two Puppies, there’s one, playing two roles.
There’s an old strategy at play here, one used to force people to do or give you what you want. Sometimes called good cop/bad cop, it involves one person appearing to be reasonable while the other person makes the threats — even though both people are seeking the same or similar outcomes.
Basically, you let someone else be the heavy. You let that person threaten to destroy everything others love unless you get your way. That way you don’t have your fingerprints all over the nasty nasty bad stuff.
The Puppies claimed to have simply been crowd-sourcing their nominations — that their slate evolved from entirely democratic discussions on their blogs. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be true at all: those comment threads are still available, and popular choices were ignored and the final slate included works that had never been mentioned.
In other words, of the 16 written fiction nominees on Torgerson’s slate, 11 – more than two-thirds – had not actually been nominated by anyone in the crowd-sourced discussion from which, we are told, the slate emerged.
Gosh. So if these nominees were not the product of any kind of democratic process, not even a process limited to a couple of right-wing blogs, where did those other titles come from?
Out of all the nominated works, nine of them come from the same micro-publisher, a Finland-based outfit known as Castalia House. The founder and sole proprietor of Castalia House, Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day), gets a 10th nomination for Best Editor.
That’s a lot of exposure for one tiny publishing house. Moreover, of those nine Castalia House nominations, one man—John C. Wright—got six of them this year, including three out of five of the nominations for Best Novella.
Cute. So what this really was was a ploy by two people, Theodore Beale and John C. Wright, with their obliging stalking horse Larry Correia, gaming the system for personal gain. So where are all those people who were so concerned about ethics in gaming journalism? Shouldn’t they be outraged by this violation of ethics in science fiction award nominations?
Charles Stross is a smart guy who is also conscious of the evil that lurks below, and he has an interesting hypothesis about Vox Day’s game here.
My guess: the Hugo awards are not remotely as diverse and interesting as the SFWAs Nebula Awards—an organization from which Vox Day became only the second person ever to be expelled. I believe he bears SFWA (and former SFWA President John Scalzi) no love, and the qualification for SFWA membership (which confers Nebula voting rights) is to have professionally published three short stories or a novel. Castalia House is a publishing entity with a short story anthology series. Is the real game plan "Hugos today: Nebulas tomorrow?"
You need to publish stories to qualify for voting for the Nebula award? No problem! Vox Day will professionally publish your crappy stories as long as they’re ideologically palatable, and he’ll get them nominated for a Hugo!