Science Fiction

Science Fiction Fans Are Fighting About Politics. It's Not the End of the Universe

Science fiction's culture wars have been around for as long as science fiction.

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credit: batwrangler / Foter

For the last several months, science fiction fans and authors have been split by arguments about politics and activism. Those arguments came to a head on Saturday night at the ceremony for the 2015 Hugo Awards—the fan award that is among the highest honors in science fiction.

In a highly unusual move, Hugo voters declined to name a winner in most of the major fiction categories, instead voting "No Award" for Short Story, Novella, Related Work, and Editor (both long and short form).

The unprecedented vote is the latest round in an ongoing science fiction culture war that has taken on an apocalyptic cast, with parties on both sides worried that the underlying dispute might ultimately destroy the Hugos, and perhaps even wreck science fiction as we know it. But what this year's Hugo awards really prove is that there's no need to worry. 

"No Award" awards have been presented very occasionally before, but never in this number. The reason for the rejection of all the nominees in so many categories was that many voters felt the nomination process had been manipulated by an outspoken faction within the fan community known as the Puppies. The Puppies are really two related, overlapping factions—the Sad Puppies, organized by science fiction writers Brad Torgersen and Larry Correia, and the Rabid Puppies, led by a writer, editor, publisher, and video game designer who goes by the name of Vox Day (real name Theodore Beale). What both groups did this year was to rally Hugo award nominators around block voting slates—recommendations for who should be nominated in each award category.

Because the voting pool is small, an organized campaign around a specific set of nominees has a chance to make a big impact on who's up for the awards. In this case, it did. Nominees from the Puppies slates wound up taking most or all of the slots in all of the writing categories. It was perceived as, and was, a kind of takeover.

What were the Puppies after? That depends on who you ask. Detractors say the groups were both reactionary movements, driven by conservative white males angry about recent Hugo awards going to stories by and about a more diverse group of individuals. Last year's Best Novel winner, for example, was Ann Leckie's book Ancillary Justice, a space opera revenge story set in a colonialist society that does not distinguish between genders and uses only female pronouns; the winning short story was about a Chinese man who reveals to his family that he's gay. Puppy opponents argue that these sorts of stories are praiseworthy, necessary, and valuable if science fiction is to expand its audience beyond the educated white male cohort that has traditionally dominated science fiction readership. 

The two groups of Puppies see themselves differently. The Sad Puppies tend to argue that their aim is not really political at all—that instead they generally prefer stories without intensely political messages, and want to see the Hugos award fiction that emphasizes science and adventure and reader enjoyment, rather than a more literary emphasis on social and political themes. In an interview with Wired, Correia said that the group's name comes from the joke that "at the leading cause of puppy-related sadness was boring message-fic winning awards." He and Torgerson have argued that too much focus on diversity becomes a goal unto itself, and can distract from the true quality of a work.

The Rabid Puppies take a more aggressive approach, one that is openly hostile to the idea of diversity, and which is often laden with sexist, misogynist, and homophobic over- and undertones. As Wired's story makes clear, Vox Day's approach is intentionally designed to be outrageous; he says that he that wants to offend people, to stir up trouble, to cause chaos and destruction. He also admits that some of his followers are not really science fiction fans, but people who agree with his political agenda and want to help him wreck the awards system. "I wanted to leave a big smoking hole where the Hugo Awards were," he told Wired before the awards were announced.

Given Vox Day's obnoxious character and stated intent, it is not surprising that many viewed the Puppies as a threat to the Hugos and even to the wider world of science fiction and fandom. And while the aims of the two groups differ, they were, in the minds of most opponents, essentially the same.

That's unfair in some ways, but not entirely unreasonable either. While Torgersen and Correia did attempt to separate themselves from the Rabid Puppies movement, they also at times seemed to suggest that they were fighting a common battle. And there was definitely overlap between supporters of the two Puppies groups; outside of the group's leaders, it could be hard to distinguish between the two. Most any of the Sad Puppies could have been Rabid, and some acted as though they were. 

And so the response from their opponents was to reject the Puppies—both of them—entirely, via the unprecedented number of No Awards. Since Saturday night, Puppies supporters have argued that the No Awards themselves constitute a threat to sci-fi, a radical and destructive action that essentially declares it's preferable to have no awards at all than to let the Puppies have their way.  

But it seems to me that the response from the Hugo voters was not really different in kind than what the Puppies did themselves. The Puppies have stressed, in the face of arguments that they cheated or took advantage of a loophole, that their block voting tactic was allowed by the rules. It was—but it was also a violation of Hugo norms. The same can be said about the No Award votes. Viewing the Puppies as a threat, the Hugo voters responded in kind.

As I said, I think it was reasonable to view the Puppies as a threat, and reasonable to respond in kind. I should note my biases here: I'm obviously no fan of the Rabid Puppies, and I don't share the Sad Puppies' opposition to books with more overt political themes or literary sensibility, and I also think it's sometimes been misapplied (Leckie's award winner, Ancillary Justice, for example, struck me not as "message-fic" but as a rather satisfying and smartly constructed otherworldly revenge story that was built out of various politically charged ideas about gender and autonomy). But I also think the Sad Puppies aren't wrong that it's possible for authors and critics to become too wrapped in identity concerns at the expense of quality fiction.  

Overall, though, my main impression is that the worries about the potential lasting effects of this subculture culture war are overblown, in part because this sort of politically driven fracture in the community isn't new. In fact, it has been with science fiction from the very beginning.

In Isaac Asimov's 1995 autobiography, I. Asimov, the famed science fiction writer described his first experience with science fiction fandom as a teenager growing up in Depression-era New York. In 1933, Asimov, already a prolific contributor to the letters section of one of the era's leading science fiction magazines (the blog comments section of its day) arranged to meet up with the Queens Science Fiction Club.

But shortly before he was to attend his first meeting, the group splintered. On one side were activists who believed that science fiction fans should take a strong anti-Fascist stance; on the other was the fan majority who believed, according to Asimov, that "science fiction was above politics." Asimov joined the activist splinter group, which became known as the Futurians.

It was a foundational moment for science fiction, and a telling one. As Asimov wrote, the split led him to "understand that science fiction fans were a quarrelsome and contentious bunch and that clubs were forever splitting up into hostile factions."

Political disagreements have been with science fiction for practically as long as there has been science fiction. Seen through a longer lens, what becomes clear is that they are an inherent part of the culture—which is, after all, built around detailed speculation about how society and technology will evolve—and arguably even what has helped it thrive for so long. And while politically charged disagreements and disputes may result in turmoil, they do no necessarily result in total victory for one side or the other.

Amongst the Futurians, for example, Asimov and many others in the group's roster of young members would quickly become influential writers and editors whose work would shape the future of science fiction, while Sam Moskowitz, who led the main fan group, went on to become a notable science fiction editor as well. The historical success of the genre is due in part to its ability to incorporate all sorts of ideas and approaches, drawing from what has worked in the past, while also looking constantly to the future.

Science fiction's fans and authors may squabble, but they can and do work things out amongst themselves. For example, the most hopeful moment at Saturday's ceremony came at the end, when the award for Best Novel was announced from the International Space Station. The location turned out to be rather fitting, for the winner was Chinese author Cixin Liu's book, The Three-Body Problem­—the first ever translated novel to win a Hugo. Liu's book, set partially against the backdrop of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, is a book that individuals on both sides of sci-fi's culture war should be able to celebrate: It's an eerie, compelling tale that is, among other things, about the ways that authoritarian governments attempt to shape and control reality. Come for the book's chilling depiction of Communist violence; stay for the international perspective and the final insistence on global togetherness in the face of an otherworldly threat.

It's a book that offers a synthesis of sorts, and its win was made possible only when author Marko Kloos decided to pull his book from the nomination list because it was a Rabid Puppies nominee—allowing Liu's novel onto the list. Far from the end of the world, books like Liu's help us—as the best science fiction always does—imagine a new one.

NEXT: Reps. Massie, Polis Team Up for Food Freedom with Delicious Unapproved Steaks

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    1. Just give Star Wars every award, every year.

      1. Can we just agree to keep politically correct BS out of Science Fiction?

      2. “Just give Star Wars every award, every year.”

        It’s the the World Science Fiction Convention, “Dr. Who” wins every year.

      1. Is it really a nerd thing and not an age thing?

        I have noticed the people who don;t give a shit about who shot who first are the same people who under rate Empire strikes back because the prequals more or less ruined the big reveal of Vader being Luke’s father.

        You basically have to be over a certain age (of the age to have seen the original movies in the theater) to appreciate these particular aspects of the series.

        1. Or you need good parents who don’t let you watch the prequels.

        2. 1. These are the same people that think FO3 is a great game and don’t understand why so many prefer FNV to it.

          2. No one raves about ESB because of the Father Reveal. They rave about ESB because its a rare gem – a genuinely good sci-fi movie where the protagonist doesn’t solve all the problems and save the galaxy by the end of the show. ESB is essential to the trilogy in that it sets up how *difficult* it is for the Rebellion to win and showcases these people as not just having a ‘grand adventure’.

          Plus its got some awesome character development. And while bikini Leia gets all the cosplay, its really on Hoth that Leia is at her hottest.

          1. Well I fit #2 but did not grok FNV. Playing Destiny now.

        3. I have noticed the people who don;t give a shit about who shot who first are the same people who under rate Empire strikes back

          Is that a thing? Everyone knows there are only two Star Wars movies, and stone-age teddy bears are just dog food in the universe.

          And, nothing else happened…

  1. destroy the Hugos, and perhaps even wreck science fiction as we know it.

    If you can’t shoehorn LGBTLSFMT characters into science fiction, where can you do it?

    1. SciFi has had positive portrayals of “LGBTLSFMT” characters longer than most other media.

      1. Try explaining that to your average SJW who thinks history started when the Internet began.

    2. Is there a category called stupid BS?

  2. Awards like that are stupid anyway. How about people just buy and read the kinds of books they like?

    1. Because without the awards, I wouldn’t know where Slave Girl of Gor fits into the zeitgeist!

    2. But message! If everyone doesn’t agree with me, it’s not worth writing!

    3. The thing is, the Hugo award used to mean that a books was worth looking at, from the POV of a casual reader. That it was well written and had pleased other readers by being entertaining. Oh, there were exceptions; years when there was a Book That Must Be Bowed Down Before, but on the whole, Hugo winners were good reads.

      That isn’t true so much anymore, and hasn’t been since the late 1990’s.

      The core issue is that block voting has been taking pace for years; organized by various members of the Clerisy, more interested in Political Correctness than readability. These vermin got hold of much of the publishing industry and have driven a lot of it into the ground. They excused their miserable performance for years by saying that “people just don’t read anymore”, but now that self-publishing is getting so easy, that is being proven a lie.

      What people won’t read is drivel. They WILL read politically charged books, if they are well written; look at the long success of Steinbeck and Hemingway, among others. What they won’t read is tiresome, insulting, formulaic tripe perpetrated by perpetual Grad Students.

      1. Oh, there were exceptions; years when there was a Book That Must Be Bowed Down Before, but on the whole, Hugo winners were good reads.

        The normally talented Fritz Leiber inexplicably won a Hugo for a book that involves fucking alien cats.

        By the end, Leiber has introduced a second planet, papered over holes in his logic with nonsense about hyperdrives, and forced an alien cat without genitals to have sex with a human.

        1. This mess with the Hugos, combined with the perennial mess with the Oscars, has made me think; wouldn’t it be better if these awards were postponed for five or ten years? That would allow flash-in-the-pans and latest-fads to blow over, and allow the voters to consider whether (for example) voting for a film about the last Emperor of China the script to which was vetted by the Chinese Communist Government might be sort of like voting for TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, except that THE LAST EMPEROR wasn’t anywhere near as well made a film.

        1. Wow, what a load of crap.

          1. Crap would at least be useful for fertilizer.

        2. The comments section was worse than the ‘story’. Truly frighteningly silly.

          1. Here’s one way of looking at it: If that story had a few details switched, and instead it was about a white guy beaten up by blacks, does anyone seriously think it would have been considered award material?

        3. If I were a dinosaur, I’d bite off her head and shit on the remains.

          The End

          Hugo me bitches!

        4. OMG. Are you serious? What stupidity.

          1. Just to be clear, the story: “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” was nominated for Best short story last year, but didn’t actually win.

            That being said, the story is adolescent crap and it’s not Science Fiction. The fact that it was nominated at all does indicate a serious drop in the quality of Hugo Award nominees.

            1. Yes, but it did win the Nebula Award and almost won the Hugo as well. It was nominated in the second year of Sad Puppies and it appears the story only fell short because of Puppy votes.

    4. How about the lefties just create their own genre and stop poisoning the ones we already have?

  3. the winning short story was about a Chinese man who reveals to his family that he’s gay.

    What’s the science fiction backdrop here, and why?

    1. From Wired:

      in which a gay man decides to come out to his traditional Chinese family after the world is beset by a new phenomenon: whenever a person lies, water inexplicably falls on them

      1. And I thought my made-up summary was stupid

      2. Wouldn’t that be fantasy not sci-fi?

        1. The Hugos are for fantasy and science fiction. The runner-up for Best Novel was straight-up court drama about elves and goblins.

          1. court drama about elves and goblins

            Aw come on, what the hell?

          2. Sci-fi and fantasy need to be decoupled. Discworld and Ringworld are not the same.

            1. Three categories need to be made. Sci-fi, Fantasy, and Sci-fi & Fantasy. Star Trek is Sci-Fi (even when what is happening makes no sense they attribute it to advanced technology or currently unknown scientific principles). Lord of the Rings is fantasy. Star Wars is Sci-fi & Fantasy (the force is magic).

              1. the force is magic

                WTF are you talking about? It’s midichlorians! They’re in everything!

                IT’S SCIENCE

              2. Even when what is happening makes no sense they attribute it to advanced technology or currently unknown scientific principles

                Bear in mind past Trek writers (Moore mostly) have openly admitted that they use ‘unknown scientific principles’/technobabble as a cheap way to move the plot forward or generate tension. It’s not really ‘scientific’ in the sense that it’s really just using made-up nonsense for story purposes.

                But yes, if you’re talking about a more scientific ‘scifi’, it needs to be separated from general fantasy. Peter Watts’ work may be weird and have vampires in it, but he spent the effort explaining how his vampires are ‘scientific’.

              3. Star Trek is no more Sci-fi than Star Trek. There is no ‘science’ going on there. More Trekky delusion.

                1. Cytotoxic, the halfwit who thinks Star Trek is improved by garbage scripts, absolutely personality-less characters (Carl Urban and Simon Pegg excepted because they do a good job with the crap they’re given) and dumb, vapid action scenes that were clearly planned before the plot was written, has something to say. I’ll make sure to pay a lot of attention to your opinion.

                  1. Nothing funner than seeing a Trekky get wound up when someone calls out his trash as, well, trash. ST: TOS sucked and no amount of your butthurt can change that or the fact that ST is not science-anything. Just treknobabble.

                    1. Apparently getting ‘wound up’=pointing out why Cytotoxic’s opinion on Star Trek is a joke in his delusional world. “DURR I can’t understand why people might enjoy something more mature and intelligent to shitty action scenes and vapid story. Why would I want a story about Kirk coming to grips with his age and mistakes when I can watch Benedict Cumberbatch do backflips?”

                      ST: TOS sucked and no amount of your butthurt can change that

                      Again Cytotoxic, I get that you’re a pathetic narcissist with a greatly inflated sense of self-worth, but just because you scream something like a spoiled child doesn’t make it true. Some people are very positive towards old Trek, and shockingly they can argue better than your childish hissy fits of ‘I’m right because I said so’.

              4. No – Star Trek, as much as I like (or used to anyway) it is straight fantasy.

                Sure, its got a science *theme* going on – but noooooooooothing they do is based on any existing or probable scientific principles.

                1. That’s not true on the original series. There were some pretty bad episodes, but they got a lot of other stuff right. TNG was just “phase” everything. Universally bad.

            2. Sci-fi and fantasy need to be decoupled. Discworld and Ringworld are not the same.

              The reason they aren’t “decoupled” is that there isn’t an obvious dividing line. When your story involves a person genetically engineered to be lucky flying through hyperspace to a world made out a physically impossible material, you really don’t have a leg to stand on when you say there’s no magic in your story.

              1. Exactly right.. I just finished re-reading Ringworld and also Ringworld Engineers. I’m about to start on Ringworld Throne.

                Great series..

                I re-read Rama also but the rest of that series sucks.

        2. The Hugos cover fantasy as well as science fiction, although the overwhelming majority of nominees are from the latter category.

      3. Fucking really?

      4. Special Hugos?

      5. Global warming, people. GLOBAL WARMING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        1. Obvious Fantasy category.

    2. In the near future, corporations control your sexuality with targeted advertising and nanobots. One man fights the system with his queer genetic powers.

      1. You could probably get the publishers into a bidding war for that pile of PC drek.

        1. Hey – Neil Asher got published.

    3. What’s the science fiction backdrop here, and why?

      Umm…..the planet URANUS??

      /ducks and runs

      1. Stay away from those Cling-ons.

    4. Dude, the Hugos let a story get nominated for a major award a few years back that consisted in its entirety of some chick fantasizing about how if her boyfriend had been a dinosaur he wouldn’t have been murdered by hick rednecks in a bar brawl.

      A T-Rex, even a small one, would never have to stand against five blustering men soaked in gin and malice. A T-Rex would bare its fangs and they would cower. They’d hide beneath the tables instead of knocking them over. They’d grasp each other for comfort instead of seizing the pool cues with which they beat you, calling you a fag, a towel-head, a shemale, a sissy, a spic, every epithet they could think of, regardless of whether it had anything to do with you or not, shouting and shouting as you slid to the floor in the slick of your own blood.

      OMG, hateful rednecks, give me all your awards now even though this isn’t science fiction!

      One problem with a lot of shitty sci-fi is that it’s not science fiction, it’s faux-literary nonsense that people write because they’re not talented enough to actually write good literature.

      1. This year’s “Best Novella” (winning by default slate voting over 4 Puppy nominations) was similarly atrocious.

      2. So first her imaginary rednecks use insults that mean different races (as if real redneck don’t know the difference between a towel-head and a spic), and then she’s under the impression that rednecks faced with a dinosaur would act like New Yorkers and cower in fear as opposed to grabbing the closest firearm and going trophy hunting. Good lord do these people know nothing about the type of people they despise?

        1. They do all their research on tumblr

          1. As far as I can tell so is article. Reliance on Wired. Ha! the comments section is having none of that.

        2. Of course not. Why do you think they so despise them to begin with?

        3. then she’s under the impression that rednecks faced with a dinosaur would act like New Yorkers and cower in fear as opposed to grabbing the closest firearm and going trophy hunting. Good lord do these people know nothing about the type of people they despise?

          That’s because it’s a really obvious power fantasy, it’s not supposed to make sense, it’s just supposed to make the author feel better.

        4. They very carefully insulate themselves from reality, because so few of them have the mental strength to withstand the realization that they are poorly educated, rather stupid, vapid little tools.

          1. Well said.

        5. as opposed to grabbing the closest firearm and going trophy hunting.

          If you were a dinosaur, my love, then you would be a T-Rex. You’d be a small one, only five feet, ten inches, the same height as human-you.

          In all fairness to the author, I’d stick with the pool cue. Maybe some hand wraps or gloves, because at 5’8″, a 5’10” T-Rex gives me a once-in-a-lifetime reach advantage.

        6. I’ve never known a redneck to drink gin. 99% of the time it’s cheap domestic beer (Coors light, Old Milwaukee, Busch, etc).

      3. Maybe her smartphone had voice recognition that actually works…

        SCIENCE FICTION!

      4. So basically, write whatever sappy bullshit that makes you feel better, and at the end add in some dinosaurs or lasers or some shit, and it’s award-worthy science fiction? Very interesting.

      5. But it would’ve been hell when her boyfriend ate her.

        1. This^^^^But the fact that she is fugly enough to scare the white off rice must mean something.

      6. Rednecks drinking gin? I know it’s fiction, but puh-leeze.

        1. I found that implausible too.
          Rednecks drink WHISKEY you moron.
          Gin is a drink for women, British people, and gays.

        2. LOL. No self respecting redneck would touch Gin.

      7. My ex had a pretty good grasp of the first Star Wars. When we exited the theater, I asked, “Well what did you think of the movie”? Her answer..

        “It’s shoot ’em up cowboy movie set in space”.

  4. Anyone remember the time a famous science fiction author raped her daughter with her pederast husband because they wanted to make sure she grew up to be gay and a bunch of people in the sci-fi community new about it but didn’t ever go to the cops?

    That was pretty fucked up, so by comparison this culture war is lame.

    1. Sounds like the plot for a Heinlein novel.

    2. Wait, what? This doesn’t sound like something I want to google, for fear of coming up with a search result that could be far worse than this story.

      1. Marion Zimmer Bradley

      2. Marion Zimmer Bradley

        I report, you decide.

        (Disclaimer: I don’t read SciFi but MZB made it to the romance blogs via overlapping genre readers. Much outrage ensued.)

        1. I met her and spent much of a day with her once, and all I can say is that she was terminally weird. But this is the first I’ve heard of these allegations. Sad if true.

      3. Marion Zimmer Bradley.

        Here are is the gateway to that monstrosity.

        Incidentally, Mary Mason and Stephen Goldin wrote two novels together collectively titled “The Rehumanization of Jade Darcy”. I believe the first book was heavily influenced by their rage.

    3. Eh? Never heard that one.

      1. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

        Moira Greyland, Bradley’s daughter, went public with her accusation on the blog of the author Deirdre Saoirse Moen earlier this month, giving Moen permission to quote from an email in which she wrote: “The first time she molested me, I was three. The last time, I was 12, and able to walk away ? She was cruel and violent, as well as completely out of her mind sexually. I am not her only victim, nor were her only victims girls.”

        Greyland is the daughter of Bradley and Walter Breen, who was jailed for child molestation and died in prison. Greyland wrote in her email to Moen: “I put Walter in jail for molesting one boy … Walter was a serial rapist with many, many, many victims (I named 22 to the cops) but Marion was far, far worse.”

        SFF fans are reeling at the news. Bradley, who died in 1999, has been a celebrated author, beloved for her take on the Arthurian legend, The Mists of Avalon, which told the story from the perspectives of the women behind the throne, and for the Darkover stories. Set on a planet colonised by humans, the world of Darkover has continued in anthologies written by other authors.

      2. He’s referring to Marion Zimmer Bradley and Walter Breen. The second link about Moira Greyland, their daughter, has some awful details.

        1. That’s what I get for taking too long to compose a reply….

    4. What’s a pederast?

      1. A pedophile who acts upon his impulses.

        1. The correct answer is:
          “Shut the fuck up Donny!”

        2. Wouldn’t that be most of them?

      2. Walter Breen.

        -jcr

    5. a bunch of people in the sci-fi community new about it but didn’t ever go to the cops

      That’s dishonestly phrased, in my opinion. The community did not know about Bradley until after she died, and viewed her husband the way people eventually viewed Michael Jackson — i.e., probably a pedophile but with nothing provably criminal to pin on him.

  5. You left out one of the sad puppies other reasons, they felt that a secret cabal was already conspiring to make sure the Hugos always went their way.

    Given how certain quarters freaked out after the nominations, i think the sad puppies might have been right.

    1. I believe Vox Day claimed to have some statistical evidence of sub rosa back-scratching and log-rolling among the SFW types who now control Tor and much of science fiction publishing.

      1. Vox Day seems to be a loathsome tool. He also seems to be substantially right in that particular accusation.

      2. Social Fiction Warriors?

  6. …a space opera revenge story set in a colonialist society that does not distinguish between genders and uses only female pronouns…

    I liked this better the first time, when it was that stupid Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Outcast”.

    1. doesnt Riker try to bang an alien in that one?

      1. or … wait for it … a shemalien?

        1. Where can I find shemalien porn?

          Asking for a friend……

      2. If Riker didn’t bang aliens, he wouldn’t have much to do. Kind of like an unemployable Kirk.

  7. The Sad Puppies tend to argue that their aim is not really political at all?that instead they generally prefer stories without intensely political messages, and want to see the Hugos award fiction that emphasizes science and adventure and reader enjoyment, rather than a more literary emphasis on social and political themes.

    Don’t be ridiculous. Every right thinking person knows that the value of political constructs of groupings of people with politically favored aesthetic features of unquantifiable value is the only thing that matters.

    1. that instead they generally prefer stories without intensely political messages

      This just made me think of how Eric Flint ruined his 1632 series..

      1. I loved that book for the most part, but then the second book got all dumb…and on and on.

      2. I only read the first one, but the worse part about it is that you could completely avoid intensely political messages and more just focus on general cultural shifts, but Flint has to, of course, insert the local union as the paragon of virtue and the evil out-of-town businessman.

        John Birmingham did a series called ‘the Axis of Time’ which is about an international fleet from the 2030s getting time traveled by to 1942. He does a really good job highlighting the cultural differences (there’s some really good scenes about ‘down timers’ flipping out about having blood transfusions from black servicemen, for example) without getting too preachy. Hell, some of the ‘down timers’ think that the people from the future are borderline barbarians based off of the tactics of the War on Terror.

      3. I had this with Alan Steele. Always liked his work, even with his leftness showing.

        Then, I read Coyote. Where the fascist, right-wing society in 2075 sent people to colonize another star system- on a starship named after Newt Gingrich…

      4. “This just made me think of how Eric Flint ruined his 1632 series..”

        Indeed.

  8. I am a life long sci-fi fan. But I can’t stand the endless drudgery of the in-fighting of awards and bruised egos.
    The fact is that for every Heinlein, there is a Haldeman. For every Vinge, there is a LeGuin.
    But, I have to say that I am a complete supporter of both groups of puppies. Fuck the leftist, gender studies, marxist douchebags. From a high-minded and thoughtful standpoint, the sad puppies have better standing. But emotionally, I am right with the rabid puppies.

    And don’t give me the Asimovian futurist bullshit that we are dreaming of a “better world”. No, we are dreaming to be left the fuck alone and let the individuals who have great ideas pursue them.
    Heinlein
    Niven
    Pournelle
    Ringo

    These are the men (yes fucking men!) who can write great stories, and at the same time, remind us what is to be free.

    1. Stross is a rabid socialist, but he still can tell a fantastic story without letting that get in the way or even making it into the plot.

      I used to feel that way about Scalzi, but he’s such a smug twat that I really don’t care about his work any longer. He personally annoys me enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth, which affects what books I choose to buy.

      1. he still can tell a fantastic story without letting that get in the way or even making it into the plot.

        His political obsessions pretty much ruined the Merchant Princes series for me.

        1. Never read that series. I’ve only read the some of the Singularity and most of Laundry series

      2. But I still love Scalzi’s books. Based on his writing, I think Scalzi is much more libertarian in his heart than I think he is willing to admit.

        1. His smug liberalism took me out. He knows zero about the military or combat. Being a liberal, he can’t collaborate with, or just ask Vets about it because 99% of them aren’t liberals. So he writes stories that simply aren’t believable.

      3. Agreed. Also, everything outside the OMW universe is too cute by half. Also, please charge 1/2 the price of a book for five short novellas and tell me it’s not about the money. Then piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.

    2. ^This. Fuck the identity politics. That the stories are written isn’t what is bothersome; it’s the idea that they MUST be exalted because they fit with a political narrative.

      1. And not only must they be exalted, but anyone not with the program must be suppressed. So we are told there are “too many” white people in science fiction and fandom, that we must “end binary gender,” etc. Plus a lot of the fallacy of presentism: we much expunge Campbell and Lovecraft because of their racism, etc.

        (By the way, the charge that Lovecraft was a racist lost a lot of its power for me when I learned that among the groups he hated were Portuguese and French-Canadians. I think that makes him more of a misanthrope.)

        1. Lovecraft was absolutely a racist based on both his letters to others and his own commentary on his work (according to him The Shadow over Innsmouth is about the horrors of racial interbreeding). But he had a lot of other problems that tend to muddle everything up (family history of mental illness, Lovecraft’s own anxiety issues as a child that seem to developed into full paranoia in adulthood).

          He did mellow out a bit with age but it’s likely that Lovecraft was a product of multiple issues rather than just racism.

          1. By “lost a lot of its power” I meant that if someone hates (e.g.) blacks, that’s one thing, but if they hate pretty much every ethnic group on the planet down to French-Canadians, well, then the guy is such an equal-opportunity hater that it seems to matter less, not more.

            1. Lovecraft was writing in a period when French Canadian immigration to the northern United States was rapidly increasing, especially in Maine, and most of them were retaining their language and religion. It’s not really surprising that he’d throw French Canadians into the ‘scary people from other places that don’t follow our ways’ pile.

              1. Lovecraft is an interesting case where his own anxieties, his take on any sort of foreigner or “other,” and his presentation of the Unknown is that rarely-enunciated-in-fiction proper xenophobia ? in the full phobia sense. We so quickly attribute things to Hate nowadays (and so change the meaning of certain words), but H.P. Lovecraft was a writer who had actual Fear of things like immigration and actualized that in his stories in, honestly, nightmarishly interesting ways.

                That what strikes me as, more than anything, sad about this whole Hugo situation. Like with practically everything else in modern society (waves hello to political news), these writers aren’t using their art for catharsis. Rather they’re actually using it ratchet up the social tension on these issues because they’ve convinced themselves ?or have been convinced via faction ? that they can either destroy the liberty for others to disagree with them or else somehow force a homogeneity of opinion (“James Madison, please report to the white courtesy phone”).

                1. I get the sense that a lot of science fiction writing these days is social signaling, much more so than it was in the ’40s-’50s. Sure, there were feuds back then, and some degree of “mundane” politics, but it didn’t get too bad until the Vietnam War, which caused a degree of bad feeling in fandom.

                  In recent years, though, the SJWs have invaded, and are causing much more bad feeling.

            2. You’re all equally worthless. You’re not even fucking human.

        2. the groups he hated were Portuguese and French-Canadians.

          It goes with the locality.

    3. Lois McMaster Bujold. Can write rings around pretty much any “identity politics” twit. If she has politics, it doesn’t spoil her writing.

    4. Niven and Pournelle were a bit derivative, imo. Vinge has two great books. I couldn’t read the third one. Simon wrote 4 fantastic books. Bujold is the best female sci-fi writer though I prefer her fantasy stuff. Brin was great for a while until he got preachy. Same for Benford. I do like Greg Bear’s stuff.

      I just got Nine Princes of Amber on my Kindle so I’ll be devouring that again. Haven’t read Lord of Light in a while, so that’s on my next 6 months list.

      1. Forgot about Scalzi, liked his Old Man stuff.

      2. Pham Nuwen and the whole trading culture idea was very libertarian.

  9. Canada’s ‘center-right’ paper of accord the National Post ran a smear on this story and lied about it.

    http://news.nationalpost.com/a…..the-system

    Getting rid of Kay as editor was not enough.

  10. I’m just glad to know that the original Spaceballs story finally will get the recognition it deserves.

  11. So… is every medium going to be ruined now by tedious bitching between two indistinguishable Teams?

    #scifi-gate

    1. How in god’s name are “teams” indistinguishable here? Bunch of fucks want to take over an area of culture, and finally people have enough and strike back. Literally nothing happened except Correia and Co. started playing by the same rules that kept them away from the awards.

      1. OK – perhaps I was being flippant but as an outsider I just see two teams, tedium, and no awards.

      2. That’s kind of how the UN works. Your country descends into civil war. Roving bands of bandits start attacking your village, so you arm up and start patrolling to keep your villagers safe.

        According to the U.N., you’re now a “Warlord” and they’ll start bombing you if you don’t disarm.

      3. How in god’s name are “teams” indistinguishable here?

        If you complain about heavy-handed message stories and then push a slate that includes some heavy-handed message stories, if you defend slate voting but then whine like babies when you’re defeated by people voting against you as a slate, you’re going to have people throw around words like “indistinguishable.”

        Bunch of fucks want to take over an area of culture

        The left has been a significant part of science fiction for ages. The 1970s, held up by the Sad Puppies as a time when the genre was dominated by old-fashioned adventure stories, was in fact the golden age of experimental sf. (And you know what? A lot of it was good!)

        I have no strong feelings on the current state of sf, because I just haven’t read much published in the genre in the last half-decade or so. (The last Hugo- or Nebula-winning novel I’ve read came out in 2007.) But I find it seriously difficult to believe that the publishing landscape has seriously changed in that time (*), even if various tribes of fandom have been getting more aggrieved.

        (* Well, in a business sense I’m sure it has, what with all the upheavals in the book industry. But that’s not what I mean…)

        1. The difference is that it was Sci-Fi exploring various points, including the leftist one. Ursula LeGuin didn’t go all crazy didactic until Tehanu, after all.

          As opposed to If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love which is…what? A poem in prose? A reflective story? It’s not Science Fiction or Fantasy by any definition of the word, but win the award it did, because it was about an Indian dude getting beat up by rednecks.

          I have no strong feelings on the current state of sf, because I just haven’t read much published in the genre in the last half-decade or so.

          So how do you know that Puppies did ” push a slate that includes some heavy-handed message stories”? Seriously, I’ve only read MH:Nemesis from the list, and heavy-handed message story it wasn’t, even if it did use Mormon theology as basis of world building:

          List of Sad Puppies nominees

          1. So how do you know that Puppies did ” push a slate that includes some heavy-handed message stories”?

            Because some of them were posted online, and I was curious enough about the hubbub to take a look.

            1. Do you remember which ones? My money would be on J.C. Wright of the authors, because god knows he can’t not be heavy handed, even when he’s at his most awesome and on-point. Two categories he was nominated in were among “No Award.”

            2. Which ones?

              I have read maybe one or two on the whole list.

              1. Yeah, it was Wright. I don’t remember which ones?he had several nominees, I would have to dig up the page and check which I tried.

                1. But it’s interesting that you mention LeGuin, because I suspect you’d agree that in her prime she was a great writer. But with some of the rhetoric swirling around, I could imagine someone reading The Left Hand of Darkness and saying, “These characters can change their sex! What an SJW!” Or reading The Dispossessed and saying, “Look at all the time she spends describing the workings of this anarchist society! Keep your politics out of my sci-fi!”

                  1. I assume this had been said when the books came out. The difference is, both of those present genuine SF concept, are well written, and were not the only kind of SF allowed into the awards at the time.
                    The difference is that the books are not didactic or prescriptive. They follow the old SF method of “here’s an idea, what are the consequences of it?” Neither society is presented as problem-free, nor is the solution for their problems simple “need more socialism.”

                    1. I assume this had been said when the books came out. The difference is, both of those present genuine SF concept, are well written, and were not the only kind of SF allowed into the awards at the time.

                      Indeed. LeGuin’s work has an actual weight and complexity to it. ‘My immature power fantasy about my boyfriend beating up people as a dinosaur’ belongs in a high school creative writing course, not as an apparently amazing piece of literature despite there being no reason other than ‘the message was good’. Walker, you seem to be arguing that cries of ‘SJW’ might undermine the actual merit of the work. But a focus on whether a ‘message is good’ also does the exact opposite, i.e. it subscribes merit to something that utterly lacks it. I can certainly provide numerous reasons as to why LeGuin’s work is substantial, regardless of its politics. Leckie as well. Can you provide justifications as to why such quality pieces as ‘Chinese man comes out and it rains when people lie’ deserve to be recognized other than its message?

                      But then again, a Twilight fan fiction is a bestseller, so perhaps people are just morons.

                    2. Can you provide justifications as to why such quality pieces as ‘Chinese man comes out and it rains when people lie’ deserve to be recognized other than its message?

                      I have read neither that story nor the dinosaur story. They may well be terrible. I’m certainly not denying the existence of heavy-handed message stories on the left.

                    3. Here, I suffered through it, so can you! 🙂

                      It’s kinda well-written (not even close to LeGuin, if you want poetic SF), but Science Fiction or Fantasy it isn’t.

                    4. Here, I suffered through it, so can you! 🙂

                      Thanks for the link. So it’s an almost If You Give a Mouse a Cookie-esque fantasy about what would happen if the narrator’s fiance was a T-Rex instead of a paleontologist, with lots of absurdist flourishes and then an unexpectedly sad ending when we find out why she’s imagining this in the first place.

                      The complaints about it upthread are kind of silly. Yes, maybe in real life the guys beating up her man would want to shoot a dinosaur instead of running away from it, in the unlikely event that a dino popped up in real life. But…this is the fantasy of a grief-stricken woman. How real thugs would react to a real dinosaur doesn’t really enter the picture.

                      It’s not bad. Not necessarily something I’d nominate for an award, but not something I’d hold out as an example of the gatekeepers’ depravity either. And if I’m willing to call “The Distance of the Moon” a speculative fiction story, I guess I can make a case for this one too. (Not that I think it’s as good as “The Distance of the Moon.”) If the Hugo ballot consisted of nothing but stuff like this, I’d say something is amiss; but if something like it sneaks into the contest every couple of years, that’s a sign that they’re open to diversity, not that they’re shutting things out.

                      (Also: In what sense is this a message story? Because the criminals yell some slurs? That’s hanging an awful lot on one sentence.)

                    5. It’s not bad.

                      Yes, it is. “Dinosaur” reads like something that might win a prize in a junior high school fiction contest sponsored by SPLC. it does not belong anywhere anywhere near stories by Zelazny and other greats of the genre.

                      Again, you don’t seem to understand the problem. They’re open to diversity in exactly the same way universities are open to diversity — they’re fine with dreck as long as its leftwing SJW dreck.

                    6. OK I think see how to explain the problem with “Dinosaur” and the Hugos to a left-libertarian.

                      Suppose the story had been called “If You Were A Gun, My Love” instead. And the guy was killed about with a burglary by, oh say a teenage black criminal, let’s call him… Trayvon. And suppose the author were a white hetero Christian male. Cis, even. And suppose it was further well-known the author was an ardent gun-rights activist, and had lots of fun technical details about guns.

                      Do you imagine the CHORFs and SFWs would have voted for “If You Were A Gun, My Love?” Or would their brains have melted in rage?

                      Would they have said they didn’t feel safe with the author at cons? Would they keep him off the noms at all costs? Would they have said so many horrible things about him that the poor man’s wife would be asked if she was safe married to such a gun-toting madman? Seems farfetched, right? Except that’s pretty much what happened to Larry Correia, who wrote some very entertaining books that are, yes, heavy on guns.

                      Would they vote NO AWARD en masse, burning the Hugos down in historic fashion to ensure such a person could not win…. oh wait, we know the answer to that for pretty damn sure already, don’t we?

                      Again, there is very little moral equivalency here. And this is all exactly what SP predicted would happen years ago.

                    7. I have read neither that story nor the dinosaur story. They may well be terrible. I’m certainly not denying the existence of heavy-handed message stories on the left.

                      Are you familiar with other Hugo winners? I’m just looking through them now, I’ve read several of them, so I’ll comment only on those. Could you provide the merits of something like ‘The Windup Girl’ without making mention of its positions on climate change, GMOs, or multinational corporations? Or why it won over Wake, a pretty good Sawyer novel that was more about the scientific nature of perception than anything political? Could you also discuss why when Robert Sawyer did win it was with a novel that portrays neanderthals living in a perfect, progressive utopia?

                      Personally, I don’t really care about the Hugos. But there is a pretty obvious problem with leftist heavy-handed stories being elevated to a level of merit they’re unworthy of solely due to their ‘message’.

                    8. Are you familiar with other Hugo winners?

                      No?like I said, the last Hugo-winning book that I’ve read came out in 2007. Though I’ve always found the Hugos to be an uneven barometer of quality; I think the Nebulas have a better track record, though they have their ups & downs too.

                      Could you provide the merits of something like ‘The Windup Girl’ without making mention of its positions on climate change, GMOs, or multinational corporations?

                      I’ve heard that one’s good. But I haven’t read it so I can’t say.

                    9. when Robert Sawyer did win it was with a novel that portrays neanderthals living in a perfect, progressive utopia?

                      Gah – and he probably has at least a half-dozen books that were better. He is certainly a prog but it doesn’t always infect every thing he writes.

                  2. But Jesse, the difference is that back when Sturgeon and then LeGuin and others were pushing the boundaries of gender identity (or whatever you want to call it), they (and their fans) weren’t also proclaiming that “binary gender has to end” in science fiction, that fandom has “too many straight white people,” that Campbell and Lovecraft should have their names stripped from awards because they were racist, and so on. Few if any Puppies care if anyone writes any sort of story they want, but objecting to heavy-handed leftist message fiction is not the same as being racist/sexist/homophobic, as the Puppy-kickers claim.

                    It’s similar to Gamergate. If Quinn and Sarkeesian and company want to create and celebrate games that suit their politics, I doubt if 99% of gamers would care. But once there’s a clearly coordinated attack on their “wrongfun” (including skewed reviews and the sudden appearance of the “gamers are dead” meme across gaming journalism, Journolist style), and they’re called bigots for liking what they like, well, there’s gonna be a backlash.

                2. Yup, Wright would probably be the one. To be fair, one is a book of essays, which inlcudes the essay I linked above, about how horrible second Hobbit film was. It goes on for pages, but I was laughing through tears, even through the part of “elven maiden shouldn’t be a warrior,” because he ended with Orlando Bloom joke.

                  1. Correction to the above: I checked the list and found that I read only one of the Puppy nominees?Wright’s “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds.” So my use of the plural in “some heavy-handed message stories” may be inaccurate, though I suspect I’d have the same reaction to his novellas.

                  2. I have to disagree with his take on the dwarves meeting Beorn. I thought that was the stupidest part of the book and one of the few improvements in the movie.

            3. Wright’s Golden Age series is easily the greatest sci-fi ever written, and the only message seems to be “respect reality.”

              Wright often gets tagged with that claim, but having read all his works just this past year, I’d say only his nonfic is heavily message-oriented (as nonfic tends to inevitably be, to the extent it has a point).

              Wright’s fictional works generally aren’t message fic, but can be heavy on philosophy, which I suppose can he a narrow distinction. People also tend to read messages that aren’t even there. For instance, a lot of people thought “One Bright Star To Guide Them” was a Christian allegory, which John himself found ridiculous.

              John also likes to challenge people to identify which of his allegedly “religious message” works were written when he was an atheist 🙂

            4. I meant to add, Wright does have a genre of work that should probably be called Catholic-fic, but of course it’s not pretending to be anything else.

        2. If you complain about heavy-handed message stories and then push a slate that includes some heavy-handed message stories, if you defend slate voting but then whine like babies when you’re defeated by people voting against you as a slate, you’re going to have people throw around words like “indistinguishable.”

          Okay. I’m game. Which heavy-handed message stories did the Puppies push? Be specific: what was the message, what was heavy-handed about it, and how, precisely, was it “pushed”?

          Further: name any Sad Puppies who “defended slate voting” (as opposed to what they actually did, which was to promulgate a recommendations list — a completely uncontroversial practice until this year).

          I’ll wait, Walker.

        3. Big surprise, Jesse’s on the side of the lefties here 🙂

          The SP objection was to secret slates and whisper campaigns against conservatives and libertarians that nominated objectively terrible writing like “Dinosaur.” They didn’t invent slate voting, they took recommendations public — and they didn’t try to NO AWARD slates they were kept off of. And they didn’t make up ridiculously offensive slanders of their opponents and publish them in mainstream news outlets.

          But since you’re mostly on the left side of things, you’re probably not aware of what publishers have been caught saying really nasty and untrue things about SP, or the mainstream outlets that were forced to issue retractions for same.

    2. Fucking -gate suffix.

  12. What a bunch of whiny nerds. This is like a denser and dumber version of GamerGate.

    1. How insightful.

    2. Yeah, how dare they not want the retarded SJW’s to take over yet another section of the culture.

    3. Honestly, if you have whiny people demanding an impossible standard based on their emotional bias, having another group of whiny people demanding an impossible standard based on their emotional bias is not a bad thing. Of course, for one to accept either’s premises one has to take the Hugos seriously, a very hard thing to do.

  13. So, what are all the right-thinking, cool, kids reading these days?

    1. I botched that! I need to work on the multitasking.

      1. Nobody EVER read tiger beat. A few silly adolescent girls bought it for the pictures and mooned over them (or worse), but nobody ever READ the thing.

        Of course they weren’t being EXPLICIT erotica. They didn’t print nudes of the boy idols. So they didn’t have to go the Playboy route of publishing stuff good enough that somebody could excuse their sank stash by saying “I buy it for the articles”.

        1. seems to have autocorrected “wank” to “sank”. I guess I should have expected that.

        2. Ironically, the only times I’ve ever bought Playboy, I bought it for the articles.

          Honestly, who needs to pay to see naked women? I have to have a spam filter on my email just to limit the amount of unsolicited nakedness in my inbox.

          1. There are those of us who remember a time before the internet. I can recall when 56k was a lot of memory.

            1. I remember those years, too. I call them “the dark times”.

        3. I think you misspelled “better.”

  14. When I think of sci-fi, I think of trans-gendered black Mexicans really sticking it to white people. That’s what the world needs more of. Our children should be forced to read those books in school. Diversity is good because diversity.

  15. Last year’s Best Novel winner, for example, was Ann Leckie’s book Ancillary Justice, a space opera revenge story set in a colonialist society that does not distinguish between genders and uses only female pronouns; the winning short story was about a Chinese man who reveals to his family that he’s gay.

    I’ve heard Ancillary Justice is awesome and I had a cousin tell me about it without mentioning any of the colonialist stuff or gender issues. That tells me those are probably ancillary (I am so sorry) to the story.

    1. They definitely are, but they’re not incidental to the writing. The narrator only uses “she” and “her” and never outright tells you what gender anybody is, so you have to either figure it out from contextual clues (where possible) or just stop caring whether a given character is male or female. Interesting reading experience.

      1. Finnish doesn’t have gendered pronouns. H?n covers both “he” and “she”.

        1. That really makes me hope her third book will up for an award in 2017, when they’re going to be given out in Helsinki.

        2. The same with spoken (but not written) Chinese.

    2. Ancillary Justice is pedestrian. It’s not terrible, but it’s certainly not great, and the core gimmick — OMG THEY ONLY USE FEMALE PRONOUNS — gets old after about ten pages.

  16. And while politically charged disagreements and disputes may result in turmoil, they do no necessarily result in total victory for one side or the other.

    What is Mr Suderman talking about, of course the Progressives will win a total victory.

    Non-progressive authors might in the future be able to self-publish, maybe.

    1. Why and why?

      1. If I had stated “conservative” rather than the cumbersome “non-progressive” then assuredly you’d agree.

        As science fiction has entered the Academy undoubtedly it will be captured by the left.

        1. In an age of self-publishing, why and why?

    2. Non-Progressive authors ARE self-publishing, on Amazon and other e-book vendors, and BOY are the Gatekeepers pissed!

    3. What is Mr Suderman talking about, of course the Progressives will win a total victory.

      Yes, of the Pyrrhic kind, since they destroy what they control.

  17. The Puppies were right that letting the message in “message fiction” outweigh the “fiction” part makes for weak literature and shouldn’t be rewarded. I think they were wrong about the degree to which that’s happening now, and enormously wrong about the degree to which “classic” SF/fantasy was always politically charged. The Forever War won all the fucking awards and deserved them, and that was a book about Space Vietnam where everybody in the future is a gay hive-mind clone. You can handle a book that plays with gender every now and then.

    That said, the “no award” wave was much more about the fact that (a) they pushed nomination slates in a setup that makes it very easy for such things to dominate the ballot, crowding out the nominations submitted by people who just voted for what they thought was best; many voters (including me) considered that potentially fatal for the awards if not smacked down hard, no matter who was pushing the slates. And (b) they used those slates to nominate shit. Not in terms of ideology, although some of it definitely was, to the point of breaking their own supposed rule about not letting the message overwhelm the story, but just bad fucking writing that wouldn’t have deserved a Hugo in any year. Probably the best was Jim Butcher’s Skin Game, which is well-written formulaic pulp but not exactly a Best Novel Of The Year contender (and that’s coming from somebody who pre-ordered it).

    1. that was a book about Space Vietnam where everybody in the future is a gay hive-mind clone

      Although homosexuality was pretty uniformly portrayed as a bad and inhuman thing in that book.

      1. I think thst was more because it was government mandated.

        1. Just as in the early part of the story, female soldiers were required to be promiscuous.

    2. many voters (including me) considered that potentially fatal for the awards if not smacked down hard

      Sure it was. That’s why you’ve been so outspoken against the log-rolling campaigns whose existence was acknowledged by no less than GRRM, and the likes of which have resulted in ridiculous mediocrities like Patrick Neilsen-Hayden securing nine Hugo nominations and three wins over the last twenty or so years. It’s also why you were at the barricades protesting the NESFA slates between 1992 and 2013.

      Wait, what’s that? You didn’t actually give a bucket of runny shit about log-rolling and slate voting until this year, when people and works disapproved of by insider cliques dominated the ballot?

      And while we’re here, let’s be brutally honest, rather than just brutally sarcastic. “The Water That Falls On You From Nowhere,” a saccharine, barely-SF-at-all piece of poorly-written dreck, took home the Hugo for best short story just last year. If you’re seriously trying to tell me that none of this year’s nominees in that category cleared the low bar set by that precedent, permit me to suggest to you that you have no business condescending to anybody in matters of taste.

  18. The most important thing for a SF/fantasy fan to remember is that you should never, ever pay attention to the rest of fandom. They will find a way to ruin everything if you let them.

    1. This is absolutely true.

    2. That is fucking right on!
      Read whatever turns you on. And the gods know I have read through ALOT of shit to pull out the real gems!

      1. And the gods know I have read through ALOT of shit to pull out the real gems!

        “Wash your hands, Dear.” 🙂

  19. So… #Gamergate for Sc-Fi literature nerds.

  20. As Asimov wrote, the split led him to “understand that science fiction fans were a quarrelsome and contentious bunch and that clubs were forever splitting up into hostile factions.”

    You know who else is a “quarrelsome and contentious bunch … forever splitting up into hostile factions”?

    1. Libertarians?

    2. Chaos Space Marines?

  21. So you have progressives being culture war aggressors and pitching a fit when people who do not want politics to dominate or are outright hostile to the progs fight back. Once a cultural institution has been conquered, it damn well better stay conquered.

    1. And , of course, Suderman sympathises somewhat more with the SJW side of the dispute.

    2. Much like Islamists, the Progressive Theocracy sees their imperialism as just, good, true, and most importantly, *one way*.

    3. And with this attitude the Liberal Intellectual Radical Progressive establishment basically ruined 20th Century fine art. The idea that something like Piss Christ is worth museum space is absurd. It is fundamentally talent-proof. A 14 year old could assemble it in an afternoon. A not very bright 14 year-old.

      Most (not all, but gods, the exceptions are few and far between) modern Symphonic or “classical” music is nearly as annoying as road construction, without being as melodic. Modern dance is about puzzling the audience. And Modern Literature, after revealing in the novel of reporting as championed by Steinbeck and hid fellows, resolutely marched up its own backside and now produces major snorers that are lauded by the New York Times ?. and then vanish without a trace.

      Tom Wolfe covered a lot of this with his non-fiction. His THE PAINTED WORD and FROM BAUHAUS TO OUR HOUSE are especially worthwhile.

      And now they are getting around to meddling with Video-games and SF, and are appalled that the unwashed would DARE to oppose them!

      Rope. Tree. LIRP. Some assembly DESPERATELY required.

    4. I think Suderman has a point that this Vox Day fellow and his supporters are toxic.

      1. They are in the blow it up camp.

        1. They are similar to the Trumpkins.

      2. Vox is moderately toxic. Which doesn’t make him wrong. Frankly, the Clarisarchs who have been quietly running most SF publishers into the ground are just as toxic, and duller. They and Vox pretty much deserve each-other.

  22. Yay! Someone *fighting back* against the Progressive Theocracy!

  23. I do think that Correia’s Monster Hunter International would be a hit with H&R crowd. Give it a bash, first book is I think still a free download from Baen or Amazon. Quite a libertarian, pro-gun bend and some cool characters. Plus an interesting plot, even if writing is uneven. Some people complained about too much gun porn, but I’m a total gun newb so I was glad to get actual make and model of each gun they use so I could look it up if I needed to.
    Also, how many other books feature a combat accountant?

    1. I’ve read a couple of them. They are some great mindless fun.

  24. Setting entirely aside this imbroglio, Is Science Fiction a dying genre?

    Other than Tolkien, which is CANON, I quietly loathe all “fantasy” literature.

    “You Canna Change the Laws of Physics!”

    So as an adult, one of the more salient ways society has disappointed me of how the popularity of fantasy has outstripped that of Science Fiction.

    Far from the end of the world, books like Liu’s help us?as the best science fiction always does?imagine a new one.

    Is this still true or must we now imagine a world with some g*dammed Wizard!?!

    1. I think a problem for Sci-fi is that physics has definitively declared that a certain number of standard s-f tropes are impossible, especially faster-than-light travel.

      1. I’m sure we’ll figure out FTL. Just like inventing the ICE.

      2. I think a problem for Sci-fi is that physics has definitively declared that a certain number of standard s-f tropes are impossible, especially faster-than-light travel.

        Physics has determined no such thing. If anything, the opposite is true: physics already has determined that FTL travel is possible even assuming that the whole universe is governed by the physical laws we know, it’s just very, very hard. Furthermore, a lot of SciFi doesn’t even involve any of that. There are plenty of interstellar space operas that don’t assume FTL travel and get by just fine.

      3. Nah, there are theoretical ways around that. The drop in sci-fi popularity as the popularity of fantasy rises is entirely anti-intellectual, in my opinion.

        The nonsensical “social justice” bull being so often passed off as sci-fi isn’t helping the genre, I’m sure. Or intellectualism.

        1. In my opinion? Fantasy still remembers the reader, and tries to be interesting. SF left that idea behind a while back, and decided to go full political. But compare the Game of Thrones, written by a hardcore leftie who thinks Obama is too moderate and isn’t shy about letting the world hear about it, with what the Puppies raged against.

          Military Sci-Fi, mostly published by Baen, often has the right-wing perspective, but it’s mostly held away from any public other than its readers, who are a rather insular breed. Inside it, there’s a few combat veterans who are much more cynical about the politics, my favorite being David Drake.

    2. I don’t see the evidence that fantasy has outstripped science fiction in popularity. Not unless you limit the term “science fiction” to exclusively “hard” science fiction, in which case fantasy has ALWAYS been far more popular than science fiction.

      1. I disagree. The proportions of SF vs. F on bookstore shelves and on bestseller lists have changed quite a bit in favor of fantasy over recent decades.

        1. That’s moving the goalposts. “Fantasy literature has become more popular than it used to be” does not mean fantasy is now more popular than science fiction.

          In 2014, science fiction titles outnumbered fantasy on Amazon’s top 100 best sellers and 12 of the 20 top-grossing movies were science fiction. That’s typical.

          1. Well, that’s one metric. I’m sure the figures were different in the years that Harry Potter books and movies first appeared.

            There’s also a great deal of somewhat under-the-radar romantic fantasy that may not make bestseller lists, but sells a lot in total.

            I am making a general statement, going by the relative weight of each in the overall genre. Back in the 1910s and into the early ’30s, I think fantasy predominated. Then the Golden Age of science fiction took over, and clearly dominated for decades, only losing a little ground in the wake of Tolkien in the ’60s. Then I’d say that by the ’90s, SF had lost a lot of steam, and all types of fantasy surged, and sometime since then, took the lead by some measures. All the vampires, urban fantasy, countless fantasy series, The Wheel of Time, Piers Anthony, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, etc. etc. I think the overall volume might well exceed that of SF at some times and by some measures.

            1. George R. R. Martin, like Piers Anthony, switched to fantasy and achieved far more success than they ever did as science fiction writers. And then there’s Terry Pratchett and Stephen King: millions of books. I think fantasy has had the edge for a while now.

            2. The year that the first Harry Potter movie came out, which was also the year the first Lord of the Rings movie came out, there were an equal number of fantasy and science fiction movies in the top 20.

              It seems to me that you are just repeating the same assertion without backing it up with evidence. You’re also incorrectly classifying Stephen King as “fantasy” when, like Ray Bradbury, he works in both science fiction and fantasy.

              1. Much more important point about King, is that his really big sales category is, and has always been, Horror. Yes, he writes SF,* but that’s not how he made his bones. Categories don’t really matter for a writer like King. His newest book goes directly on the front-of store display and then onto the best seller display, where it will get discounted in almost all brick & mortar stores. His backlist is probably filed under “Fiction,” though if the shelves are thin in the SF/F* section, or a horror section if the store has one, some books might appear in both places.

                In online bookselling this doesn’t matter. Just tag the entry with as many category keywords as the merchant thinks will generate sales when someone searches.

                Kevin R (Haven’t sold books in years, but did a quarter-century+ stint pushing ink on bound dead trees)

                * Nomenclature alert.: See next post.

                1. * Nomenclature alert.:

                  SF can be “speculative fiction,” which contains both science fiction and fantasy. Under the “many worlds” interpretation, any fantasy setting can be an alternate universe with different physical laws, so the argument can be made that fantasy is a subset of scientifiction. And it’s “ess-eff” or “stef” for Gernsbeck’s portmanteau, which is abbreviated “stf.” “SciFi” was invented by paleofan 4SJ Ackerman as a way for non-fen doing things like writing Variety headlines to refer to the genre. Serious and constructive (sercon) fen don’t use it, or derisively pronounce it “skiffy.” SyFy? That’s the Syphilis Channel, and the short form is “siffy.” “SciFi” is perfectly cromulent when referring to Hollywood drek.

                  There are World Fantasy Awards, nicknamed the “Howard,” after Lovecraft. They are voted by a panel, not the come-all-ye-who-buy-a-supporting-membership method Worldcon uses for the Hugo.

                  Kevin R

                  fanboy who hasn’t been to an SF con in {mumble mumble} decades

          2. I think you’re counting a lot of things as science fiction that I would not. I would say that all those comic-book movies are fantasy.

    3. You’re missing out if you’ve overlooked Robert E. Howard, L. Sprague DeCamp, Replay by Ken Grimwood….

  25. It’s disappointing Suderman didn’t note the puppies argument that the left wing political / social activists have been using slate process in an informal way for decades, resulting in the virtual exclusion of non-PC authors from the award. The existence of some worthy works among award winners doesn’t disprove this, nor does it justify the exclusion of non-left wingers.

    Without correctly stating the opening position judgment about whether a correction is beneficial or harmful is impossible.

    1. He did notice it. It’s just that he supports it, is all. So making the puppies look bad was the point.

  26. Just when you thought guild drama was the worst, the infection seems to have spread.

    I’m going home, and I’m taking my ball with me too!

  27. A lot of this nuSci-fi sounds bad, but it sounds like it’s always been around. I mean, Star Trek was popular and terrible and not remotely sciencey.

    1. Christ Almighty, you have shitty opinions.

      1. New here, huh?

  28. worried that the underlying dispute might ultimately destroy the Hugos, and perhaps even wreck science fiction as we know it.

    Really, who cares about the Hugos? Awards used to be useful to give authors exposure, but these days, a good Amazon rank and rating are far more important than what a bunch of self-important ideologues on some committee think.

  29. Remember, the culture industry has to move product like any other. Controversy and strum und drang gets attention. And attention sells books. Fandom eats it up and you’re reading about an award that is usually announced in the Sunday literary supplement (and the literary types hate having to mention the genre).

    There is a certain amount of schtick in a lot of this. A hardcore SJW, Kameron Hurley, admits that this is a schtick, a loud act to get attention and sell books. [I really liked her God War series]. She might believe it all 100% – which makes the act even better.

    Vox Day, on the otherside of the spectrum is also, it seems to me, acting a part in a play. His early blogging never was as extreme and offensive. Then some senior Tor people went for him and he decided to make it all burn. He also needs to sell books and if it requires he act like a raging asshole, well, it pays the mortgage doesn’t it?

    How many books were sold today?

    1. There is some truth to this. There’s also a tremendous amount of social signaling happening on the SJW side. “We’re progressive anti-racists and anti-fascists and anti-homophobe!! Love us!!”

  30. More coercion from the SJW crowd, and this author is complicit.

  31. give me some gay space Hitler or gtfo

  32. Bullshit Suderman.

    Your description of the motives and overall picture is less than accurate in my opinion. While not agreeing with either sides’ possible motives, the fact remains that progressives are, and have been, in charge of the inner workings of SciFi for decades. And that they DO NOT pay heed to, or promote, authors that don’t see things in a …..err….umm….progressive light. Some people are now pissed off enough to fight back, so the progressives voted no awards.

    See how different that sounds compared to the way you said it? AIN’T WORDS JUST COOL AS SHIT!

    Yehaw…

  33. And while the aims of the two groups differ, they were, in the minds of most opponents, essentially the same.

    The SJW ‘mind’ is not capable of processing such subtle thoughts.

  34. Only two RAH references? Wow.

    At least the basic point that it’s not all ray-guns and space ships is not lost on the Hugo crowd.

  35. No nominations for Dr. Chuck Tingle. ‘Tis a sham and a shame.

  36. the left poisons everything it touches. I lost interest in the genre when they started calling SF “Speculative Fiction” instead of Science Fiction.

  37. I know the Sad Puppies have proven their point, that despite what platittudes the progressives say about being inclusive, their actions show otherwise. Sure it was a reaction to slate voting, but they could have voted based upon the quality and merits of the work or person and let the chips fall where they may. In particular, best long form editor was no awarded over a person whose authors run the gaumet from avowed communist, Eric Flint to avowed to the right of Genghis Khan, Tom Kratman. Why does Toni choose to work with these authors? Because story comes first, and gender, cultural, and sexual characteristics come second.

  38. While I’m a long time fan of science fiction I only recently learned of this controversy around the Hugo. This article explained it to me in a very non biased way. Thank you for that (that quality is getting rare these days).

    In principle I agree with the sad puppies that art should be judged on quality. However, I don’t know if they went about this in the correct way.

    The saddest thing and something I still don’t understand is Marko Kloos withdrawing. I understand and applaude that he is standing up for his principles.

    This whole thing seems like a mess and I don’t think I’ll have the same respect for the Hugo list. It just seems to political to produce a valid list of quality work.

    1. I agree that the best, most intellectually stimulating reads should win. I’m constantly looking for the next Ringworld to suck me into different universe.

      But, I’m not sure how else they could have gone about it. Obviously the SJW leaning voters were acting as a bloc already.

      1. Try Vinge or Benford…way more to those universes than Ringworld.

        1. Done and done

    2. The ‘puppies’ did go about it in the proper way–at first.

      Various people tried to simply talk about this problem and get things to an even keel again–but the SJWs don’t work that way.

      If you’re not writing, thinking, eating, drinking, and living in the currently approved and perpetually changing frame of SJW righthink then you’re completely and totally evil and everything you prefer must be destroyed until your only choice is the currently approved and perpetually changing frame of SJW righthink.

      Once talking was shown to not work, some people tried to fight.

  39. Seems to me that refusing to read the nominated works and then voting No Award is by far the most pathetic action of any of the people involved in this. You read all the nominees and thought they sucked, so voted No Award? That I can respect.

    But a lot of voters refused to works nominated by people they don’t like. That’s the action that proves the point of the Puppy campaigns.

  40. Asimov didn’t go with the anti-fascists–he went with the pro-communists. As Suderman’s link indicates. Changes the equation a bit, no?

    Fuck you, Suderman–and you too, Walker, to the extent that you would support the SJW attack on freedom.

    Here’s the thing. the SJWs are wrong. Always. Because the sane have no problem letting people enjoy whatever things they want–provided they don’t infringe on others enjoying the things they want.

    And the only thing SJWs enjoy is infringing on the things others enjoy.

    1. Fuck you, Suderman–and you too, Walker, to the extent that you would support the SJW attack on freedom.

      Such an attack on freedom, to not give the awards you want them to give.

      1. This is just one thread among many. It is gamergate, it is microagression, it is this endless slivering of sexuality.

        It is forcing everyone into the currently approved–but ever changing–SJW version of rightthink.

        I could give two shits about the hugos–the leftists killed them years ago.

  41. Yeah, but… If homosexuality is proven to have a large genetic component, and in the future we have the ability and will to genetically engineered the species, will we not remove homosexuality? Where are the stories about parents choosing their children’s gender, of “repairing” homosexuality? Would not there be even less homosexuals in futuristic setting?

    1. Other than homophobia, there’s no reason to “repair” homosexuality.

      Indeed, in the kind of future you’re positing — where society controls all births — homosexuality is preferable to heterosexuality. Homosexuals are less likely to have unsanctioned pregnancies.

      1. I don’t think a ‘society that controls all births’ is being posited. I think a society where a doctor says that there’s an X chance that your child will have Y defect, with homosexuality being just one entry on that list is being posited. And I think parents will do what is best for their children–particularly repairing defects in their reproductive systems(what homosexuality actually is).

        But hey, this whole bit is in the wrong thread.

      2. “Other than homophobia, there’s no reason to “repair” homosexuality.”

        Agreed, I’m not going to “repair” homosexuality. However, I would probably choose heterosexuality if it was an option.

      3. Other than homophobia, there’s no reason to “repair” homosexuality.

        Indeed, in the kind of future you’re positing — where society controls all births — homosexuality is preferable to heterosexuality. Homosexuals are less likely to have unsanctioned pregnancies.

        Yeah, a fiction where an genetically recessive and conditionally inferior trait are select for by force. What idiots would believe in that let alone be interested enough to read a *whole* book about it?

        I mean it’s not like one could look at factual history and find any societies where the progressive embrace of homosexuality by the cultural elite went hand-in-hand with brutal oppression and a socio-cultural collapse that most everyone except the cultural elite would’ve preferred to avoid, if possible.

        So, barring such absurdities in actual history, in the entirety of the realm of (science) fiction can’t possibly contain a case for any set of cultures, races, peoples, technologies or events where homosexuality *might* be the cause of *any* problem. It’s unthinkable!

        I mean, the Eloi did all look like unisex dandies and do no work except to feed, play, and mate. So they are clearly exclusively heterosexual, right? And the morlocks are cannibalize the Eloi, not because they need to feed their growing heterosexual population or stabilize any sterile/faltering genetic lines, but because they really like the taste of Eloi, right? Yup, no homophobia there… no need to fix *that* situation.

        1. The 1984 Prometheus Award Winning novel The Rainbow Cadenza by J. Neil Schulman got to a progressive embrace of homosexuality by the cultural elite …. hand-in-hand with brutal oppression over 30 years ago.

          Notice how there’s no problem giving the Prometheus to a left-anarchist like Ken MacLeod? A good read is a good read, even if it is ideologically unclean.

          Kevin R

  42. The Puppies were right, the committee wrong. I do wish I had the puppies nominations, I would read them and enjoy, instead of put aside in disgust.

  43. Hmm.. I guess the SJW-ification or Reason.com starts with this article.

  44. Peter misses the point a bit — SP came about not just because of left-wing message-fic, but because it was being nominated by a small group of SJW in the publishing industry. They said “okay, well we can nominate too!” And they did.

    The response was… this.

    Note that the SP never organized campaigns to vote NO AWARD when their slates didn’t win. There’s very little moral equivalence in this fight.

  45. Okay, so you have an awards ceremony that has been slowly giving more and more awards to more literary SF, and a second group of people who object to this, and who want to see more awards given to more traditional works. Both good things.

    The problem is… now you have a third group, and that third group includes the Rabid Puppies but it also includes a large number of random trolls who have just piled on for fun, who don’t really care about anything but destroying things and making a name for themselves. Because of this third group, it’s become impossible to actually carry on a coherent discussion between the first two groups.

    Both of the two groups have legitimate issues that need to be discussed, but it is impossible to do that now because of the attempts at disruption.

    The reason that the Puppies bid was shut out was because what was nominated was almost universally crap. Only one of the Puppies nominations won, and that was Guardians of the Galaxy. It didn’t win because it was liberal, it didn’t win because it was conservative, it didn’t win because it was on a promoted slate. It won because it was one of the best damn SF films made in the past decade.

    If you nominate good material, people will vote for it. If you nominate crap, people will vote against it. It’s as simple as that. Vox Day somehow believes that by nominating crap that a point is being made. The only point that I see is that people don’t like reading crap.

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