SAD PUPPIES 3: The unraveling of an unreliable field

One thing that’s become apparent during this third go-around of SAD PUPPIES, are the many and divided opinions on why the Hugo awards are broken. Much of this conversation is simply a continuation of the debate held during (and in the wake of) Loncon 3. Depending on who you ask, the Hugos are broken because they are either too insular (this is part of the SAD PUPPIES theory) or too easily manipulated by outside voting blocs (the “fandom purist” theory) or because “fandom” itself is still too white, too straight, and too cisnormative (Call this the “Grievance Studies theory”) or even that the Hugos spend too much time dwelling on popular works, at the expense of real literature (the “pinky-in-the-air snob theory”) or that “fandom” simply falls into predictable ruts, and is easily swayed by sparkly bellwethers, such as the Nebulas.

I want to introduce another theory. One that others have spoken of before. I call it the “Unreliable packaging” theory. And it’s afflicting not just the Hugos, but the SF/F literary field as a whole. As witnessed by (yet another spate of) declining SF/F sales at the bookstores.

Imagine for a moment that you go to the local grocery to buy a box of cereal. You are an avid enthusiast for Nutty Nuggets. You will happily eat Nutty Nuggets until you die. Nutty Nuggets have always come in the same kind of box with the same logo and the same lettering. You could find the Nutty Nuggets even in the dark, with a blindfold over your eyes. That’s how much you love them.

Then, one day, you get home from the store, pour a big bowl of Nutty Nuggets . . . and discover that these aren’t really Nutty Nuggets. They came in the same box with the same lettering and the same logo, but they are something else. Still cereal, sure. But not Nutty Nuggets. Not wanting to waste money, you eat the different cereal anyway. You find the experience is not what you remembered it should be, when you ate actual Nutty Nuggets. You walk away from the experience somewhat disappointed. What the hell happened to Nutty Nuggets? Did the factory change the formula or the manufacturing process? Maybe you just got a bad box.

So you go back to the store again, to buy another box of good old delicious and reliable Nutty Nuggets!

Again, you discover (upon returning home) that the contents of your Nutty Nuggets box are not Nutty Nuggets. The contents are something different. Maybe similar to Nutty Nuggets, but not Nutty Nuggets. Nor are the contents like they were, with the prior box. You dutifully chomp them down, but even adding a spoonful of sugar doesn’t make the experience better. In fact, this time, the taste is that much worse.

Two bad boxes in a row? Must have been a bad shipment!

Return to the store. Buy another box. Bam. It’s not Nutty Nuggets.

This time, you add bananas, sugar, and berries. This only makes up for the deficit a little bit.

Return to the store again for yet another box. Yup. It says NUTTY NUGGETS proudly on the packaging. You are sure in your heart that you love and adore Nutty Nuggets! And yet, the magic is gone. This is not the cereal you first fell in love with. The box may say NUTTY NUGGETS but you won’t be fooled any longer. Nutty Nuggets are dead. Or at least they are no longer of any interest to you.

So, you reluctantly turn to another brand. Maybe Freaky Flakes or Crunchy Bits? You give up on Nutty Nuggets, and you let some other cereal woo your taste buds. A cereal that is reliably what it claims to be on the outside of the box.

That’s what’s happened to Science Fiction & Fantasy literature. A few decades ago, if you saw a lovely spaceship on a book cover, with a gorgeous planet in the background, you could be pretty sure you were going to get a rousing space adventure featuring starships and distant, amazing worlds. If you saw a barbarian swinging an axe? You were going to get a rousing fantasy epic with broad-chested heroes who slay monsters, and run off with beautiful women. Battle-armored interstellar jump troops shooting up alien invaders? Yup. A gritty military SF war story, where the humans defeat the odds and save the Earth. And so on, and so forth.

These days, you can’t be sure.

The book has a spaceship on the cover, but is it really going to be a story about space exploration and pioneering derring-do? Or is the story merely about racial prejudice and exploitation, with interplanetary or interstellar trappings?

There’s a sword-swinger on the cover, but is it really about knights battling dragons? Or are the dragons suddenly the good guys, and the sword-swingers are the oppressive colonizers of Dragon Land?

A planet, framed by a galactic backdrop. Could it be an actual bona fide space opera? Heroes and princesses and laser blasters? No, wait. It’s about sexism and the oppression of women.

Finally, a book with a painting of a person wearing a mechanized suit of armor! Holding a rifle! War story ahoy! Nope, wait. It’s actually about gay and transgender issues.

Or it could be about the evils of capitalism and the despotism of the wealthy.

Do you see what I am trying to say here?

Our once reliable packaging has too often defrauded our readership. It’s as true with the Hugos as it is with the larger genre as a whole. Our readers wanted Nutty Nuggets because (for decades) Nutty Nuggets is what we gave them. Maybe some differences here and there, but nothing so outrageously different as to make our readers look at the cover and say, “What the hell is this crap??”

Note that this is not nearly as much of a problem for movies and television. You can still (mostly) rely on movies and television to give you what you want. Video games as well. The packaging matches the experience, and the experience matches the packaging. The studios (motion picture as well as game development) understand that an unhappy audience is an audience which spends its money elsewhere. And so the studios don’t usually devote a lot of time to re-inventing the contents of the package simply for the sake of novelty, or to score a political point, or to push some agenda. Films and television which attempt this — a kind of subversive switcheroo — are liable to crash and burn at the box office, as often as not.

When people want and expect Nutty Nuggets, and you fail to deliver . . .

No Buck Rogers, no bucks . . . .

Yet SF/F literature seems almost permanently stuck on the subversive switcheroo. If we’re going to do a Tolkien-type fantasy, this time we’ll make the Orcs the heroes, and Gondor will be the bad guys. Space opera? Our plucky underdogs will be transgender socialists trying to fight the evil galactic corporations. War? The troops are fighting for evil, not good, and only realize it at the end. Planetary colonization? The humans are the invaders and the native aliens are the righteous victims. Yadda yadda yadda.

Which is not to say you can’t make a good SF/F book about racism, or sexism, or gender issues, or sex, or whatever other close-to-home topic you want. But for Pete’s sake, why did we think it was a good idea to put these things so much on permanent display, that the stuff which originally made the field attractive in the first place — To Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before! — is pushed to the side? Or even absent altogether?

We’ve been burning our audience (more and more) since the late 1990s. Too many people kept getting box after box of Nutty Nuggets, and walking away disappointed. Because the Nutty Nuggets they grew to love in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, were not the same Nutty Nuggets being proffered in the 2000s, and beyond.

This is not an irreversible trend. But we’re pretty deep into the unraveling, and there may not be enough cohesive force to keep SF/F tied together as a whole. The field may simply blow apart entirely, like a supernova. The different pieces spinning off into the universe, leaving a dead neutron core (or even a singularity) in its place. No more identifiable SCIENCE FICTION. Just SF-flavored war fiction, or SF-romance, or SF-mysteries, or Fantasy-flavored cop dramas, etc. The center (as the saying goes) may not hold.

Advertisements

265 thoughts on “SAD PUPPIES 3: The unraveling of an unreliable field

  1. Succinctly put, and very well-described. The topic has been beaten beyond death, but seriously, when did entertainment become about ‘starting a conversation?’ If I had the influence, I would likely lock up every person who tries to ‘start a conversation about [insert inflammatory topic here]’ together, so they could all converse with each other and leave the business of having fun and doing potentially unsafe things for kicks to the rest of us.

    Seriously. I’d do it. And film it as real entertainment. You can just imagine the conversations they would have together, no one actually listening to anyone else, or just attacking each other. Highest rated show of all time.

  2. Well said Brad, but i’m doing my part to try and put the genie back in the bottle.

    I think the harm can be undone, it will just take time. Just because some clowns decided to New Coke the SF genre doesn’t mean we can’t get Coke Classic back.

  3. Well, Brad, if you buy Brand “T” or Brand “O” or even Brand “D”. . . .you won’t get that great Nutty Nuggets Taste.

    But, oh, Brand “B:. . . . . still that great flavor and that unmistakeable crunch. . . .

  4. So what you’re saying is that book cover tropes haven’t evolved with or aren’t addressing the expanding subjects and themes of sf/f? That publishers don’t have the courage to put on the outside what they’ve put on the inside lest they shrink their markets and, thus, they are causing consumer confusion?

    What are some titles you’ve had problems with and how would you change their covers?

  5. Snow, you’re taking it a bit too literally. This isn’t about book covers, as much as it’s about the field as a whole having a brand label struggle. People got into SF/F in large numbers because of the adventure, the gosh-wow-gee-wiz worldbuilding, the broad-chested heroes and buxom heroines, the laser blasters, the starships zooming at warp speed to save the day, etc. Our genre still preserves a patina of swashbuckling, but it’s usually only that: a facade. Nowadays you’re liable to be served up a lecture on Womens Studies, versus getting taken for a ride with the Gray Lensman, or Captain Kirk for that matter. You can have “issues” in your SF/F but I fear the issues have overtaken the adventure. Or at least this is the complaint I’ve been seeing and hearing from a lot of readers. People who freely admit to being avid SF/F readers until . . . they just kind of drifted off. The contents of the “package” stopped interesting them. Or actively repulsed them.

  6. Yeah, a branding problem is definitely part of the problem.

    If people want to make and eat what Nutty Nuggets turned into *THAT’S FINE.* There’s a market for everything and everyone – just don’t try and force it on people who want something else and then tell them they’re just enjoying their food wrong.

  7. The harm can be undone, but it will take time. A lot of it, unfortunately.

    Hanging out over at Larry’s blog, I constantly see people who show up and say, “I’d given up on science fiction, but now I’m glad to be back.” They got tired of being told how much they suck because they’re male, or white, or straight, or whatever.

    Science fiction isn’t dying because they’re not marketing to whatever niche they’re convinced is under represented these days. It’s dying because they forgot that a hell of a story is universal. I came back to science fiction books because of Michael Z. Williamson’s “Freehold”.

    No, the fact that the main character was a woman didn’t bother me. It was a good story. That’s all I needed.

    A great story is all you really need. You do that right, and I don’t care whether your character is straight, white, or a transexual lesbian dinosaur. Make the story work, and it’ll forgive all sins.

  8. I’ve noticed that a lot of the self published Kindle ebooks in SF/F tend to be old fashioned space opera and high fantasy. With the publishing houses no longer interested in that sort of work, perhaps Amazon is the future?

  9. Andrew,

    As a newbie start up small press that uses Amazon and Createspace, I have to say, now is the best time ever to be trying to publish stuff. Between POD and EBooks, the barriers to entry are basically “put the work in” and you can do it. You still need an idea, you still need the time to craft and create it and you still need to assemble it all, but you no longer need to convince someone else it is a good idea. You do have to do your own advertising thought (http://sciphijournal.com buy my magazine!)

  10. I just posted a comment on Larry’s blog that touches on this. I have been a diehard SFF fan for most of my life (I’m 45 now) and these days I barely touch a genre related book precisely because of SJWing of the field. I *was* a fairly prominent blogger (linked on a number of well-known sites) and I just had enough. I haven’t blogged in over a year, nor have I done any reviews on Amazon, Goodreads etc., either.

    I just hit the wall with all the nonsense and basically lost interest in trying to connect to a type of fiction that now seems to hate people like me. I know I can pick up a book by you, Sarah, Larry, John Wright and a few others, but having to sift through the political b.s. has taken the joy out of what used to be my favorite form of entertainment. I created this online persona just to avoid the grief that would come if I posted under my other name too– and I think it’s ridiculous that I even have to worry that being doxxed could be a problem for me, but I know it could.

    Lately I have been enjoying, with quite a bit of schadenfreude, the bickering between different SJW factions over who is the purest of the pure victim class. The fallout over Jonathan Chait’s article on political correctness has been priceless. But I’m not sure the SJW implosion will happen soon enough for me to feel like I can wade back into the SFF community anytime soon.

  11. Hi RS,

    Be interested in writing for SuperversiveSF.com under pseudonym of your choice? It isn’t too late for things to turn around an you should take a chance on Sarah, Brad, John or Larry. Shoot me a line if this actually interests you, editor@sciphijournal.com

  12. Andrew: I have noticed the same trend myself. I have also noticed that there’s several indie writers vastly outselling the “big names” of SF/F.

  13. Reblogged this on madgeniusclub and commented:
    The inimitable Brad Torgerson, token cuddly liberal of the Evil Legion of Evil has a theory which just might be right.

  14. I had largely stopped buying new science fiction. I still read Analog and that was about it. One year I was on the Nebula Jury for novels and was, definitely, the “odd man out” when it came to recommendations and that was close to twenty years ago.

    Then, a few years ago, I was browsing the science fiction section of the local Library and came across a book that had some intriguing cover text. It was John Ringo’s “A Hymn Before Battle.” I got it, enjoyed it, got the rest of the series up to that point (through Hell’s Faire). Oh, what’s this in Hell’s Faire? A CD? With a whole _bunch_ of books?

    Next thing I knew I was going through Baen’s catalog buying books left and right. Free Library? Wow!

    This was the Science Fiction I missed, the Science Fiction I enjoyed growing up.

    This is what got me reading new Science Fiction again.

    It’s also what got me writing again. (Whether you consider that a good thing or not is up to you.)

  15. Hey. Nutty Nuggets are tasty and filling and I love having some in my cupboard. But yogurt is also tasty. 🙂

    Actually, my complaint about sf and fantasy being bait and switch is the overabundance of “urban fantasy” in the bookstores. If I never have to read about witches, shapeshifters, slayers and angst – filled vampires ever again…. or see them filling the shelves so that more interesting books are crowded out, I would be very happy. That, to me, is what started the decline. I mean, as one flavor among many, it was ok. But now that’s what I see everywhere. Old grognard is grumpy about that. A few good space operas would be mighty welcome.

  16. I don’t particularly have a dog in this fight; I vote for the Hugos most years (but not last year; I was busy with work — in London, as it turned out, so I was able to go to Worldcon AND sleep in my own bed for a change). I did, however, read “Ancillary Justice” and it was a perfect example of sensawunda and exploration of ideas and story and space opera — pretty much ALL of the things that kept me reading SF once I got past my teens), but what it seems to me is that Sad Puppies’ complaint is that SF is no longer about Manly Men Doing Manly Things in a Manly Way. In other words, the same complaint that happens *every* year when people say, “the Hugos are broken because the stuff I like (that is obviously the best) didn’t win!”

    Not everything I vote for wins. More often than not, my choice for Best Novel loses. I don’t expect Godzilla to win BDO Long Form in 2015. It doesn’t mean the process is broken. It means that the majority of voters have different tastes than I do. (At some point, a MilSF movelwill win again. I probably won’t vote for it either because MilSF generally bores me in much the same way that FPS games bore me.

    But it won’t mean the process is broken

  17. This. Oh, Harriet, THIS. This is why I stopped reading much in the genre for years unless it was someone I knew I liked. (Now if only P.J. Hodgell put out books faster than 2 a decade…) Or made my husband screen them and only read the ones that got his thumbs up AND fit my own preference frame (A Venn diagram whose intersection isn’t really large enough to suit my desire to read). I’ve morphed over the years from a nearly exclusive SF/F reader to one who picks up a number of genres including a couple I won’t admit to in public – with the rare SF/F volume here and there. All in the avoidance of the “message” novel. If I wanted to read that tripe, I’d join Oprah’s book club.

  18. “I did, however, read “Ancillary Justice” and it was a perfect example of sensawunda and exploration of ideas and story and space opera ”

    As the saying goes, the parts of AJ that were good were not original, and the parts that were original were not good.

    “Sad Puppies’ complaint is that SF is no longer about Manly Men Doing Manly Things in a Manly Way”

    Yep, straw men are *way* easier to debate than actual opponents, aren’t they?

    “the Hugos are broken because the stuff I like (that is obviously the best) didn’t win!”

    The Hugos are broken because 30-50 year old Hugo winners routinely outsell today’s Hugo winners. By a lot. The Hugo is (at least in theory) a fan award, voted on by fans.

    That the fans who award the Hugo are no longer representative of the actual SF fan community seems beyond question.

  19. If we’re going to do a Tolkien-type fantasy, this time we’ll make the Orcs the heroes, and Gondor will be the bad guys. Space opera? Our plucky underdogs will be transgender socialists trying to fight the evil galactic corporations. War? The troops are fighting for evil, not good, and only realize it at the end. Planetary colonization? The humans are the invaders and the native aliens are the righteous victims. Yadda yadda yadda.

    I may regret posting after three drinks, but would somebody please point out a couple of novels that fit this description? I haven’t read any, so I find this whole description, well, baffling.

  20. “If we’re going to do a Tolkien-type fantasy, this time we’ll make the Orcs the heroes, and Gondor will be the bad guys.”

    Well, Correia did have orcs as good guys and elves as shiftless trailer park denizens in the Monster Hunter books, but I don’t see him getting awards for it. 🙂

  21. Twila, we must be sisters. 🙂 I don’t care for vampires or all that lot but I sure to love a great space opera. Mostly what comes closest these days is military SF but there are a few more space opera adventures among strange cultures and on strange planets than there used to be, at least it seems so!

  22. BTW… I remember back in the mid 1990’s, first getting on usenet and finding misc.writing. I think this was even pre- rec.arts.sf.composition (which still exists, please come say hello). But I remember reading someone’s post saying that Lois Bujold (!) was a hack for writing Space Opera. I mean, it was so bad that “Space Opera” was actually treated like a dirty word, and there wasn’t many people who’d dare to speak up and say it wasn’t. You couldn’t say “sci-fi” without getting flamed (back when that was truly a spectacular usenet sport) and shouted down and piled on by nearly everyone. It was SF and make no mistake! “Sci-fi” was a hack thing, just like “Space Opera” was a hack thing, and Big Names weren’t going to let you get away with accidentally saying “sci-fi” without getting pounded to a little grease spot for it. Speculative Fiction was Real Literature and don’t you dare forget it. (The definition of “hard” SF was also of dire importance.) I don’t think that this can be blamed on publishers, entirely, but what got *published* also seems to have reflected this situation of “we are so NOT hacks, we do SO write literature, don’t you dare call it sci-fi!” The Nutty Nuggets with chrome and bubble helmets were replaced with some odd tasteless organic bran with bran sticks, gray goo and social relevance.

    So what happened is everyone started reading fantasy. So fantasy sold. So publishers bought more fantasy.

    This has changed and people say they want the grand adventures again, the Golden Age again, but I’m not sure that a residual shame for SF being the literature for 13 year old boys doesn’t still hang on in the shadows.

  23. “Big Names weren’t going to let you get away with accidentally saying “sci-fi” without getting pounded to a little grease spot for it.”

    That was largely due to a long-ago diatribe by Harlan Ellison, who later wound up hosting a show called “Sci-Fi Buzz” on the Sci-Fi Channel.

    I would dearly love to be in the viewing audience if someone asked him to reconcile those apparent discrepancies. 🙂

  24. Just a coincidence that fully half of Jason Sanford’s Hugo recommendations are people who indulge in group libel against men and whites. That used to be 0%. My Nutty Nuggets have “Now with KKK frosting for KKKids!!!!”

  25. In which case, logically, F&SF reading shouldn’t be declining but just switching over to Baen, which still has Nutty Nuggets? So… is that happening?

  26. You’ve got a good chunk of it right there. When the publishers won’t readers what they want, they go elsewhere. The real eye-opener for me was the author earnings chart breaking down income by genre – only 18% of author revenue in romance, and 29% in SF/F, is passing through the hands of the traditional big publishers anymore. The market has walked away, and of those that still read, a large number are reading indie or small press, who are willing to serve up “Classic Nutty Nuggets! Just like you remembered!” to the market that’s hungry for tales of derring-do and adventure, romance and mystery.

    source: http://authorearnings.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/author-earnings-by-genre-and-publisher-type-5.png

  27. “but what it seems to me is that Sad Puppies’ complaint is that SF is no longer about Manly Men Doing Manly Things in a Manly Way. ”

    Right. This is why so many of us love books like Freehold that have female characters kicking ass.

    Every time someone trots out the ” Manly Men Doing Manly Things in a Manly Way”, I want to freaking throw up. Seriously.

    Yes, I like action in my novels. I don’t want books with strung out negotiations. I want someone to shoot bad people in the motherf-ing face. I don’t care if it’s a “Manly Man” or a transsexual disabled llama. As long as the action kicks ass, I’m golden.

    But, apparently I’m wrong for liking the kinds of books I like.

    Now, ask me if I give a damn?

  28. Brad:
    There’s a sword-swinger on the cover, but is it really about knights battling dragons? Or are the dragons suddenly the good guys, and the sword-swingers are the oppressive colonizers of Dragon Land?

    A planet, framed by a galactic backdrop. Could it be an actual bona fide space opera? Heroes and princesses and laser blasters? No, wait. It’s about sexism and the oppression of women.

    Finally, a book with a painting of a person wearing a mechanized suit of armor! Holding a rifle! War story ahoy! Nope, wait. It’s actually about gay and transgender issues.

    Or it could be about the evils of capitalism and the despotism of the wealthy.

    Do you see what I am trying to say here?

    Ummm, not quite. You seem to suggest that colonization, sexism, gay and transgender issues, capitalism and despotism of the wealthy should not be discussed in SFF. That’s a weird weird attitude. I think science fiction should be able to talk about anything.

    Additionally: antiheroes, political themes and experimentation (which you Sad Puppy people are against, I guess) have been around in SFF from the 60s onwards when the new wave science fiction writers came forward. Cyberpunk of the 80s had lots of commentary on capitalism and morally gray characters (the opposite of “good guys shooting bad people in the aforementioned motherf-ing face”) etc. Nothing new there, really.

  29. This is one of the reasons I became an indy author. I wanted those Nutty Nugents, and after several years of bemoaning their lack, I went out and made my own.
    And the readers really seem to be appreciating it.

  30. Cat: Judging by the increase in the number of authors and releases over the past 5-10 years since I became aware of them I’d say the ones that are staying are, indeed, switching to Baen, but that doesn’t mean everyone leaving actually finds Baen before they give up. I wouldn’t have found them myself, if a friend at work hadn’t handed me a book (Weber’s Mutineer’s Moon) and said ‘you have to read this!’

  31. “Additionally: antiheroes, political themes and experimentation (which you Sad Puppy people are against, I guess) have been around in SFF from the 60s onwards when the new wave science fiction writers came forward. ”

    Reading comprehension fail.

    No one is against them per se. What we’re against is the notion that anything that doesn’t have these things is automatically unworthy.

  32. “But, apparently I’m wrong for liking the kinds of books I like.”

    Errr…no. You like the kind of books you like and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not my particular taste I don’t see how you can read that into what I wrote where I specifically point out that it means that the plurality of voters have differing tastes. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that, either.

    If it bothers you so much that your particular favorite flavor of oatmeal isn’t the most popular, or that the demographic if Hugo voters has changed so that your particular favorite books aren’t winning…ehh…I can’t get too worked up about that. It’s pretty much the same as people who like classic rock complaining that now it’s the big EDM shows that sell out.

  33. Pingback: Brad R Torgersen on False Advertising in SFF | John C. Wright's Journal

  34. “I can’t get too worked up about that. It’s pretty much the same as people who like classic rock complaining that now it’s the big EDM shows that sell out.”

    You might have a point if the readers were actually buying the SJW crap. They aren’t, and you don’t.

    SF and related genres own movies and TV, yet SF “literature” sales are down every year. How is that?

    If anyone is in the “classic rock” position here, it’s the aging hippies (and their younger cult followers) who keep rehashing SJW tropes that were mined out in the 1970s, if not before.

  35. T.L. Knighton:
    No one is against them per se. What we’re against is the notion that anything that doesn’t have these things is automatically unworthy.

    And who supports that silly notion, exactly? Not me. Not anybody I know of. Charles Stross, for one, does well in Hugos year after year despite the fact that his stories are quite straightforward adventure tales. I have never heard anybody suggest that Equiod shouldn’t have won a Hugo or Neptune’s Brood shouldn’t have ended on the shortlist because they didn’t have enough feminist/leftwing/experimental/whatever content.

    When we were discussing Ancillary Justice in some earlier comment thread, however, you guys were saying that it shouldn’t have won and it’s an unworthy book because it plays with gender (and colonialism, probably). As far as I can see, you really are against these things per se.

    Brad writes in the post that it is possible to write a good SFF book about racism, sexism or gender issues. I would be interested to hear some examples of these good books.

  36. “As long as the action kicks ass, I’m golden.”

    Given that this has been an enduring feature of literature that people actually want to read since at least the days of the author of The Epic of Gilgamesh, I think you’re definitely golden. 🙂

    Mr. Weingart would have it that human nature has changed, such that ass-kicking action is no longer entertaining. The SF and comic book movies that are minting piles-o-cash indicate otherwise. True, most of them do have some kind of SJW “message” grafted on (corporations as the villain rather than national or international socialists, e.g.), it’s rarely the major focus of the film. You could pull the villain and plug in another without changing the story much.

    When Hollywood goes full SJW, the movie generally fails. As venal and corrupt as Hollywood may be, they actually do pay attention when ticket sales go down. That makes them smarter than the print SF world (Baen excepted).

    Mr. Weingart’s mistake is assuming that his way is the Way of the Future. While that argument could, perhaps, have been made with a straight face in 1970, it’s quite untenable today. The Soviet Union is long gone, and China is Communist in name only. North Korea and Cuba are the only ones left, and Cuba will only remain “communist” for about 2.5 nanoseconds after the last Castro dies.

  37. “Charles Stross, for one, does well in Hugos year after year despite the fact that his stories are quite straightforward adventure tales.”

    Oh, please. Stross is more left-wing that Feliks Dzerzhinsky.

    “it’s an unworthy book because it plays with gender (and colonialism, probably).”

    No one said that. Provide a direct quote of someone saying that it was an unworthy book solely because it “plays with gender” or retract.

  38. Actually, I think most of us thought Ancillary Justice shouldn’t have won because it was bad.

    We argued that the reason it DID win was because of the gender thing, was really just pronoun usage.

  39. “Actually, I think most of us thought Ancillary Justice shouldn’t have won because it was bad.”

    Exactly. Not bad as in “should never have made its way to the top of the slush pile” bad, but definitely not Hugo-quality material. We did point out that most of Leckie’s “brave” and “oriiginal” schtick had been done decades ago, by better writers.

  40. Capt. Carnage wrote:

    You seem to suggest that colonization, sexism, gay and transgender issues, capitalism and despotism of the wealthy should not be discussed in SFF. That’s a weird weird attitude. I think science fiction should be able to talk about anything.

    No, that’s not what Brad suggested nor what he wrote. No one commenting here suggests there isn’t room for all sorts of science fiction stories, including the ones you used to build your straw man. The hint in the column is the phrase “unreliable packaging.”

    Imagine going to the comic book store to buy a comic for a child. You spy a lovely cover of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck at the seashore with the promising title “Mickey and Donald’s Ocean Adventure”. Certain this is perfect for the child in question, you buy it and give it to the child. Only when the child’s furious mother calls you do you learn that the story starts out well enough, with the two characters managing to get too far off shore in a boat and lose the oars. Then, instead of funny hijinks, Mickey and Donald are overcome with despair, contemplate suicide, and only in this moment confess their sexual love for each other. The story ends with Mickey doing Donald up the windward passage as the boat drifts further out to sea.

    Would you try to explain to the child’s mother that there’s room to talk about anything in comic books or would you wonder why the idiot was who designed the cover and story blurb didn’t tell the truth about the contents?

    This is what Brad is complaining about — covers and cover copy that promise one thing while the book delivers something else. It’s not that the reader objects to the story’s existence nor wants to keep it from ever being published, it’s that the reader was led to expect something other than what the reader got. It’s unreliable packaging, promising one thing and delivering something else.

    Did you simply miss that (even after the long Nutty Nuggets example) or did you just choose to read your own interpretation into the column?

  41. Dude, you got it backwards. YOU’RE the one who’s all over the internet, commenting on every single blog that mentions Sad Puppies. You’re following US.

  42. SBP:
    Oh, please. Stross is more left-wing that Feliks Dzerzhinsky.

    And what is left-wing in Equiod, for example? I remember reading a Sad Puppy manifesto where the point was that your personal politics don’t matter if the stories have enough explosions, but I guess the goalposts moved again. 😀

    No one said that. Provide a direct quote of someone saying that it was an unworthy book solely because it “plays with gender” or retract.

    Brad wrote: “Here’s the thing about Ancillary Justice. For about 18 months prior to the book’s release, SF/F was a-swirl with yammering about gender fluidity, gender “justice,” transgenderism, yadda yadda. Up pops Ancillary Justice and everyone is falling all over themselves about it. Because why? Because the topic du jour of the Concerned Intellectuals Are Concerned set, was gender. And Ancillary Justice’s prime gimmick was how it messed around with gender.”

    With that reasoning, every book dealing with gender issues is not good enough. If a book such as Ancillary Justice wins a Hugo, it’s only because of the popularity of these themes. Nice theory, but quite a simple one. If that’s not the case and Ancillary Justice was just badly-written, maybe you can name a better book which discusses gender issues from the last couple of years?

    hlvogel:
    Imagine going to the comic book store to buy a comic for a child.

    Your choice to speak about buying something for a child is quite telling. Science fiction grew up in the 60s, so there’s no need to stick to simple action and adventure formulas with no dangerous ideas anymore. That’s just my opinion, though. Different people like different stories.

  43. I liked Ancillary Justice: it’s not as original as some of its fans think, but it really does take on some tasks that are rarely handled in SF. I don’t mean gender: I mean the collapse of a superhuman to a human-level state, and a first-person narrative by AI construct who is dominated by her subconscious mind without ever fully realizing that she even has one.

    I can testify that it’s quite possible to read the book and be uncertain how feminist it’s supposed to be — although I did avoid looking in to the author’s personal opinions for fear of what I’d find. For some reason, very few readers seem to comment on the fact that the gender neutral society is not a utopia but a horrible repressive empire. (Could Imperial Radch maintain an ideological devotion to gender neutrality regardless of how badly that works in the real world? Are there any real-life examples of societies trying to perform the same trick?) If it’s an example of the work being wiser than the author, well, it’s not the first time I’ve run into that.

    Should it have won the Hugo? Based on the actual ballot, you could at least make the argument: like 2012 and 2013, we can charitably call the list uneven in quality. I wouldn’t have voted for it, myself, if only because it had already won the Nebula, and taking both should (in a better world) be reserved for true masterpieces.

  44. Andrew, the police already hauled you into the station because you have been cyberstalking various people for 12 years. I’m far from the only person you’ve harassed. You’re going to end up locked up if you don’t stop this. You don’t seem to understand that you going to someone else’s site and harassing them is what amounts to cyberstalking, or that when you do so, sometimes you are going to run into the wrong person.

    I know everything about you. And that’s on you. All you had to do was mind your own business, but you couldn’t. I am not the stalker, Andrew. You are. Did you learn nothing from being brought into the station? Do you really want to go to prison?

    Because you will never get away from us as long as you keep showing up on our sites.

  45. “And what is left-wing in Equiod, for example?”

    The cheerful immersion in quasi-child molesting tentacle torture porn. Good Lord, you’ve rendered yourself so haplessly devoid of sense that you can’t even recognize the sickness of the quagmire in which you’re wallowing.

    Science fiction used to be Boy Scouts in Space. Now you wouldn’t dare to leave the average science fiction author alone with a Boy Scout for 10 minutes.

  46. “Going through my Youtube likes, finding my friend’s videos, distributing them on your blog, and e-mailing her is harassment.”

    No, Andrew, it isn’t. I emailed her twice. I never went through your YouTube likes. You have left more comments here on this post alone than the sum total of my interactions with Emma Leavitt that ended months ago.

    And now I’ll be calling the lawyers at the Wildlife Center again. I haven’t paid you any attention since you were dragged down to the police station, but I’m certainly going to now.

  47. Cpt. Carnage:

    Your choice to speak about buying something for a child is quite telling. Science fiction grew up in the 60s, so there’s no need to stick to simple action and adventure formulas with no dangerous ideas anymore. That’s just my opinion, though. Different people like different stories.

    No, my choice of buying something for a child is not “quite telling.” It’s an example, nothing more. My example could just have easily been about a book featuring a pair of gay lovers on the cover which turns out to be an adventure story about manly men doing manly things, with nary a mention of gender issues or the problems gays face in a straight society to be found. (Is that “grownup” enough for you?) It’s still a case of deceptive packaging, which is the subject of the column.

    Meanwhile, you’re choice not to respond to the substance of my comment actually is quite telling — which is the same as the column. See the last sentence in the paragraph above for a hint. Screw the hint, the subject is DECEPTIVE PACKAGING OF SCIENCE FICTION NOVELS. It hasn’t got a damned thing to do with “messages” or “plots” or anything except the problem is having a cover and cover copy promise one thing (regardless of what that thing is) and having the story inside the cover deliver something else (again, regardless of what that thing is).

    Seriously, the contortions you go through to avoid discussing the actual subject of the column are quite considerable. Why, pray tell, do you insist on claiming the discussion is about one thing when it very obviously is about something else? Why, pray tell, do you pick out irrelevant details from an example and claim they’re “quite telling” while ignoring the actual content of the example?

    Fortunately, I don’t need you to answer these questions (since I’m sure you’ll find some phrase I wrote offhand and claim it’s “quite telling”). The answer is that you have no actual response to the actual discussion being held here and are simply trying to force it to fit your preconceptions. Rather than admit that, you insist on trying to claim we’re discussing something we’re not. And, again, that is quite telling.

  48. “but what it seems to me is that Sad Puppies’ complaint is that SF is no longer about Manly Men Doing Manly Things in a Manly Way. ”

    Boy, you sure kicked that straw man over. So now we have a Straw Brad to go with Straw Sarah and Straw Larry.

  49. The cheerful immersion in quasi-child molesting tentacle torture porn. – what “cheerful immersion? The whole point is that the tentacle thing is evil personified!

    hlvogel- I for one would find it helpful if you would cite a specific novel that you see as having been deceptively packaged.

  50. Heck, you don’t need Nutty Nuggets to illustrate the point.

    Nyquil will do just fine. Formerly a concoction that would render one comfortably inert while suffering a cold, the alcohol and pseudophedrine have both been removed. And it doesn’t work nearly as good.

    So I don’t buy it. (of course, the problem with using Nyquil as the example is it is trademarked. And the reasons for the change bring in all sorts of libertarianish issues. So maybe Nutty Nuggets is a better vehicle for making your point.

  51. As for people leaving most publishers and flocking to Baen – yes it is happening, but at the same time many people aren’t discovering it in time before they give up. *I* almost gave up on Sci-Fi, and only by luck tried out a Baen novel. (And I was literally raised on Star Trek/Sci-Fi in general.) I work in a library, heck at that point I was a shelver and handled basically every single sci-fi/fantasy novel that went through the library – and it is one of the busiest libraries in one the busiest systems in the country.

    Why didn’t I look into them before? It really does boil down to me not trusting the covers anymore as an indication of what kind of story I would be dealing with.

  52. It’s more than just deceptive packaging… it’s actively anti-packaging. The box says Nutty Nuggets, but the interior is not merely something a bit off – it’s been almost painstakingly crafted to be as nauseating as possible to someone who loves Nutty Nuggets.

    Many of these stories not only fail to deliver on what many SF/F fans love, but are dedicated to actively insulting those fans, calling them backward and retrograde, belittling their taste in adventure as immature.

    The bitter irony is that, contra what a few commenters above have said, a lot of classic SF/F was far ahead of the general curve of society in addressing social issues. A story about race relations that could never see the light of day if it was about Alabama in 1951 was a spectacular success when it was set in Andromeda in 9115. Science Fiction could deal with issues in the midst of a rousing space yarn because it was a yarn, it was “out there” and thus a safe space to talk about human nature… so that a fan here might suddenly say, “Whoa, that could be us, now…” #mindblown, as the hip kids said up until recently.

    If it’s nothing but message, though, then it’s not a story anymore, but a sermon, and not a welcome one in most cases. Lots of us already have faiths (or lack thereof) that we hold in esteem. It’s beyond vexing to be scolded by some self-appointed wet blankets as if they were the very inventors of Love Thy Neighbor and the Golden Rule, especially when they care much more in practice about patting themselves on the back over it than actually loving any real neighbor – say, the person they’re scolding, whom they lecutre in contempt rather than try to persuade in hope.

  53. Nyquil is a perfect example from my point of view. I used to just get an OTC antihistamine whenever I had a bad cold or allergic reaction. Once they started removing the pseudoephedrine, I could no longer go and get my usual. In fact, I soon realized I couldn’t even pick another pack at random – none of them were good. So I no longer get OTC antihistamines at all, and only get my preferred brand directly from the pharmacy.

    Similarly, for a long time before the Kindle and the explosion of the indie scene, I only got SF/F from Baen, unless it came heaped with honors by people whose opinions I respected and reading tastes I liked.

  54. Oddly, I don’t believe human nature has changed all that much. I also recognize that there’s a variety of tastes out there.

    (There also seems to be some belief here that Hugo voters are some monolithic bloc that goes out and says, “Oh my god, these people are too right wing. We’ll never vote for them” That shows a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of how the Hugos work. Members of the Worldcon (and the prior Worldcon) nominate works. Those works with the greatest number of nominations in each category go on the ballot. The works are voted on by members of the current Worldcon according to their own preferences using a preferential voting system.

    Again, if your favorite books aren’t winning Hugos, it means that the Hugo voters like different things than you did (At LSC3, my own first choice was “Throne of the Crescent Moon” which came in 4th in voting). Of the novels I’ve read since L3, actually, I enjoyed Ancillary Justice the most . I haven’t really slogged my way through the whole Wheel of Time. If it’s not to your taste…well…it’s not to your taste. As I said above about MilSF — there are people who like MilSF. There are people who like it a lot and read nothing but MilSF. Most MilSF bores me to tears. (I’m not sure I’d want to read about Boy Scouts in space either. It’d be too much like hanging out with my kids’ scout troop).

    I’m not against people taking part in the Hugo process. It might get some of you actually showing up at Worldcon (and since I volunteer on them and work on them, I think that’s a good thing). It might mean that the books you like are more likely to win. But my big takeaway from last year’s Hugo results wasn’t “don’t be conservative” but, rather, “don’t be a dick.”

  55. (There also seems to be some belief here that Hugo voters are some monolithic bloc that goes out and says, “Oh my god, these people are too right wing. We’ll never vote for them” That shows a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of how the Hugos work. Members of the Worldcon (and the prior Worldcon) nominate works. Those works with the greatest number of nominations in each category go on the ballot. The works are voted on by members of the current Worldcon according to their own preferences using a preferential voting system.

    There’s no misunderstanding involved. That’s exactly how we figure it works, with the caveat that those voters are a tiny minority of the book-buying public and non-representative of said book-buying public in that they tend to skew way to the left politically.

    As for the “nobody goes out and says….” bit, go look at the results of last year’s “Sad Puppies” campaign and the number of people who said exactly that in so many words.

  56. But my big takeaway from last year’s Hugo results wasn’t “don’t be conservative” but, rather, “don’t be a dick.”

    One more thing: In the Left’s vernacular the two statements are semantically equal. Or perhaps you can point me to where you were telling folk who were making straw man arguments and the like against folk like Larry and Brad that they shouldn’t be dicks?

    If it’s really “don’t be a dick”, then surely you’ve been telling people on the Left the same thing, right?

  57. Carnage, this isn’t about “gender issues.” When you put it like that it is so devoid of its proper context as to be meaningless. This is about a sick ideology that has a feral phobia of men, whites and heterosexuality. They pass it off as some analogy to Jim Crow but its proper analogy is to making up Gulf of Tonkin’s to hide their paranoia and other sociopathic mental health issues. A least a simple majority of these women openly admit on the internet to having mental health issues. They’re just a bunch of sick and bigoted liars and that’s all it is. People have no problem understanding that about the KKK or neo-Nazis. Aren’t women equal? These are daffy supremacists, nothing more. Their oppressions are in their minds. Only mental cases talk about trigger warnings and having PTSD from online interactions to the point they need a safe space. They need padded cells and meds more than anything else. They live in the safest most human-rights oriented nation in the history of the civilized world and they act like Mongols are at the gates. Who talks about being dragged behind pick up trucks and the USA as a restaurant of evil cis-dudes out to punch them out? I’ll tell you who: nutters.

  58. “I for one would find it helpful if you would cite a specific novel that you see as having been deceptively packaged.”

    The first example that comes to mind is Mercedes Lackey’s The Last Herald-Mage trilogy. Now this may perhaps not convince, as it is (a) quite old at this point — the books having been published in 1989, 1990 and 1991 — and (b) the “deception” is mostly a matter of omission rather than active misrepresentation, and furthermore an omission that is not necessary for people who had read Lackey’s first Heralds trilogy and recognized the protagonist Vanyel Ashkevron from that first series’ backstory. Nonetheless, I think it is significant that neither the books’ covers, nor any of the back-of-the-book summaries — the stuff, in short, that usually gets the browsing reader to pick up a paperback and buy it — mentions what is usually considered the most “important” aspect of Vanyel’s life story: the fact that he is gay. And it is not until the reader is at least 40% into the first book, and hopefully already well-engaged by the story, that this revelation is made not only about the character but to the character; in other words, the story is structured to draw readers in and then surprise them with that element, in such a way that I cannot help but think (though this is admittedly unproveable) it was deliberately designed to reach audiences who would not have bought the book if they had known about the hero’s sexuality right up front. It also seems plausible, to me at least, that given the high proportion of teenage readers of SF/F in any given decade, books which did not alert people who glanced at them on a desktop or shelf about content that might upset parents were also appreciated.

    It must in fairness be acknowledged here that most marketing material seldom explicitly mentions the orientation of the protagonist or the protagonist’s relationships unless it is being tailored specifically to that market (e.g. romance fiction or LGBT fiction); it must also be acknowledged that at the time, marketing a book as explicitly containing LGBT elements would still have run afoul of community standards in many places (see above about parents). But the SF, fantasy and horror genres are, to my mind, particularly prone to this kind of tactic (see also Tanya Huff and Fiona Patton, or Poppy Z. Brite). It might be best characterized as exploiting assumptions rather than being actively deceptive, but it still involves Brad’s basic point, I think, which is that authors do take advantage of readers expecting one kind of story in order to tell (and sell) them another.

  59. VD:
    “And what is left-wing in Equiod, for example?”
    The cheerful immersion in quasi-child molesting tentacle torture porn.

    I still missed the left-wing part.

    hlvogel:
    My example could just have easily been about a book featuring a pair of gay lovers on the cover which turns out to be an adventure story about manly men doing manly things, with nary a mention of gender issues or the problems gays face in a straight society to be found. (Is that “grownup” enough for you?) It’s still a case of deceptive packaging, which is the subject of the column.

    Brad’s point in this column, as I understand it, is that today’s science fiction deals with themes he isn’t interested in. Your example of gay lovers on the cover of a book about heterosexuals has nothing to do with it. SFF books that deal with gender issues, colonization etc. are no less SFF than manly man science fiction, so I think your deceptive packaging argument somewhat misses the point.

  60. For another more recent series which might be accused of concealing a message until the reader is hopefully too entangled in the story to turn away, I’d suggest Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. What begins as initially a cool young-adult peregrination adventure through a steampunk world, and later various multiple worlds, winds up culminating in an author tract against religion in general and Christianity in the specific, to such a degree that several people I’ve read who had no disagreement with the content of that message nonetheless felt Pullman’s heavy-handedness about it had spoiled the story. And as with Lackey above, the fact that this thematic and philosophical message is (in hindsight) clearly intentional all along, yet not explicitly manifested until the reader is well drawn in, suggests a certain degree of deliberate disingenuousness on the author’s part designed to “catch” readers who might not normally have been drawn by that story.

  61. No, Brad’s point is pretty well spelled out and I believe you willfully are ignoring it.

    The problem is when books are being put out and marketed like adventure stories when they’re really about gender identity or some other social issue. This is annoying, regardless of the issue. Hiding a gun rights tirade as a space opera can be just as annoying, and I’m a gun rights advocate.

  62. “I for one would find it helpful if you would cite a specific novel that you see as having been deceptively packaged.”

    Grimspace : Sirantha Jax, Book 1, by Ann Aguirre. Crusading I AM INDEPENDENT SEXUALLY LIBERATED (yet ohhhhhh so wounded by patriarchy) WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR complete with a weird gay secondary character storyline/relationship and SJW paradigm oppression everywhere. Oh, and it’s almost a full blown romance series to boot… expecting to encounter simple space opera, I missed the “mysterious man”

    Here’s the
    BLURB
    By all accounts, Sirantha Jax should have burned out years ago…
    As the carrier of a rare gene, Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace—a talent which cuts into her life expectancy, but makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. But then the ship she’s navigating crash-lands, and she’s accused of killing everyone on board. It’s hard for Jax to defend herself: she has no memory of the crash.
    Now imprisoned and the subject of a ruthless interrogation, Jax is on the verge of madness. Then a mysterious man breaks into her cell, offering her freedom—for a price. March needs Jax to help his small band of rogue fighters break the Corp monopoly on interstellar travel—and establish a new breed of jumper.
    Jax is only good at one thing—grimspace—and it will eventually kill her. So she may as well have some fun in the meantime…

  63. Brad’s point in this column, as I understand it, is that today’s science fiction deals with themes he isn’t interested in. Your example of gay lovers on the cover of a book about heterosexuals has nothing to do with it.

    Freyja’s cats! Is your reading comprehension that poor? The bulk of Brad’s blog post was about the “mislabeling” of SF/F, turning into something else while labeling it as the same stuff.

  64. “what “cheerful immersion? The whole point is that the tentacle thing is evil personified!”

    Please. Just saying “you know that guy I spent pages and pages lovingly chronicling in detail? He’s BAD!” doesn’t change the fact that you decided to subject the reader to wallow in it.

    “There also seems to be some belief here that Hugo voters are some monolithic bloc that goes out and says, “Oh my god, these people are too right wing. We’ll never vote for them” That shows a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of how the Hugos work.”

    Quite to the contrary. We can tell you exactly how big that left-wing Hugo hate vote is. It averages around 620 votes against inoffensive right-wing writers who never said nothing to nobody. It’s easy to calculate if you analyze the Hugo numbers. The pinkshirt vote represents about 35 percent of the historical Hugo voting membership, although it has been diluted to about 25 percent thanks to the expansion of membership due to Sad Puppies.

    The pinkshirts hate me the most. Much to his disappointment, they only hate Larry 82 percent as much. They hate the average right-wing writer about 55 percent as much as they hate me, which should be sobering news to the folks who think that they’ll be spared because they are less radical than me.

  65. thewriterinblack:
    Freyja’s cats! Is your reading comprehension that poor? The bulk of Brad’s blog post was about the “mislabeling” of SF/F, turning into something else while labeling it as the same stuff.

    No, it wasn’t. His stated problem is that books with a planet on the cover don’t necessarily have boy scout sort of protagonists and morally black-and-white situations anymore. As I said in my first comment, that has been the case for 50 years beginning with new wave SF. I like it that way, but luckily we can all find different books to read and love.

  66. Thank you for listing some deceptively-packaged books.

    Here’s my Hugo nomination ballot:
    Hurricane Fever – Tobias Buckell
    Defenders – Will McIntosh
    The Burning Dark – Adam Christopher
    A Darkling Sea – James Cambias
    Trial By Fire – Charles E. Gannon

    I think you’ll find no deceptive packaging in that group. Looking at the 16 books on my Hugo-eligible list (see here) the only ones that might fit the bill are “Locked In” and “Ancillary Sword.” In short, it seems that there is God’s-a-plenty of straight-up SF being published.

    Other comments:

    that this revelation is made not only about the character but to the character; yet many gay people don’t figure out (or accept) that they are gay for some time. It may be unfair to the reader yet it’s realistic.

    doesn’t change the fact that you decided to subject the reader to wallow in it. – Isn’t that what H. P. Lovecraft did?

    Grimspace : Sirantha Jax, Book 1, by Ann Aguirre – there’s a frugging woman on the cover, yet you’re surprised that she has sex? Heinlein’s “Friday” had a hot chick on the cover and spent VAST amounts of time on her love-life.

  67. No, it wasn’t. His stated problem is that books with a planet on the cover don’t necessarily have boy scout sort of protagonists and morally black-and-white situations anymore.

    So the answer is “yes” your reading comprehension is that poor.

    Good to know.

  68. Friday by Robert Heinlein was mentioned uptopic and, frankly, it’s a pretty good example of the deceptive story. When I first picked it up, everything from the cover blurbs to the opening chapters of the book led me to expect a science fiction espionage action story. Instead, it rapidly turned into a “young woman searches for belonging” story. And, so, the first time through I got to the end and thought, “uh? That’s it?”

    Heinlein, however, was such a master that on rereads I picked up what he was doing and enjoyed the book for what it was. Still would have preferred to know what I was getting from the outset.

  69. “It may be unfair to the reader yet it’s realistic.”

    Oh, of course. But the question is, was the reader led to expect one kind of story only to get another, and does one have a right to criticize that practice as disingenuous? The story that you get may not in itself be bad — I myself quite liked the Vanyel books, and I even thought the Pullman books were OK on their own merits for most of books 1 and 2 — but when one orders bacon-wrapped steak, one has a right, I think, to complain when the chef serves you bacon-wrapped tofu instead, without telling you that what’s inside the bacon is tofu, in the belief that the tofu will be better for you.

  70. Is English your first language, Carnage, or are you just an amateur sophist?

    I didn’t dislike the book because it “messed around with gender”, nor did anyone else.

    Varley (among others) wrote a lot of great stories that were gender-fluid enough to make Leckie’s head explode. The difference is that they were good stories. Not sermons about the SJW cause du jour sugar-coated with a thin layer of story. Actual stories.

    David Weingart: “But my big takeaway from last year’s Hugo results wasn’t “don’t be conservative” but, rather, “don’t be a dick.””

    When Correia et al campaigned for more people to join WorldCon and become Hugo voters, it resulted in months of screeching rage among the SJW contingent. Authors were being called every vile name in the book just for being on his slate. Go over to his site. He’s collecting examples as we speak.

    Some dicks are more dicky than others, it seems. And I’m really biting my tongue to avoid quoting Team America: World Police right now.

  71. “His stated problem is that books with a planet on the cover don’t necessarily have boy scout sort of protagonists and morally black-and-white situations anymore.”

    No, it wasn’t.

  72. It isn’t reasonable to accuse leftists of “being dicks”. They are out to save the world, something must be done! If they aren’t dicks to people they disagree with then their grand vision of how the world should really may be imperiled and given the stakes of course any level of BeingADick(TM) is justified and therefore excusable … wont somebody please think of the children.

    Yeah I don’t believe it either, but they seem too.

  73. To this I would add that message fiction or stories of social reactions to technological advance can be done and they can be done well. Unfortunately very few authors can pull them off in a way that both entertains the audience and puts forth a particular point of view. Pratchett’s Discworld series has a certain philosophy buried in it but you’re too usually being entertained or laughing until it hurts to really notice it until much later when you stop to think about it. By the same token, Ben Bova’s Tales of the Grand Tour series is enriched by the background social issues of the setting but the main thrust of the tale is usually “can the crew survive a descent to the surface of Venus” or “is it possible that we’ve discovered intelligent life on Jupiter.

  74. SBP:
    “His stated problem is that books with a planet on the cover don’t necessarily have boy scout sort of protagonists and morally black-and-white situations anymore.”
    No, it wasn’t.

    Huh? Did you read it yourself?

    Brad sez:

    “A few decades ago, if you saw a lovely spaceship on a book cover, with a gorgeous planet in the background, you could be pretty sure you were going to get a rousing space adventure featuring starships and distant, amazing worlds. [–]

    These days, you can’t be sure.

    The book has a spaceship on the cover, but is it really going to be a story about space exploration and pioneering derring-do? Or is the story merely about racial prejudice and exploitation, with interplanetary or interstellar trappings?”

    Exactly what I said he said: less Golden Age sense of wonder and boy scout attitudes, more subversive themes and stuff relating to real-world problems.

  75. –> Varley (among others) wrote a lot of great stories that were gender-fluid enough to make Leckie’s head explode. The difference is that they were good stories.

    Except that Varley wrote examples of the type of “SJW” writing to rival anything Swirsky puts out, and received awards for it.

    Take “The Persistence of Vision”, for example. Triple crown winner — Hugo, Nebula, and Locus in the novella category. During the peak of the field, too. And it checks every possible box that the Sad Puppies movement complains about. Yes, every box. It’s even plotless, unless you count the narrative structure of Bellamy’s “Looking Backward” (with sexual fantasies replacing socialism) as a plot. If they’d awarded Varley’s “Persistence of Vision” a Hugo at LonCon, the cries of anguish from the Sad Puppies voters would have rivaled the reaction to the dino story.

    Let’s not idealize the past TOO much. This stuff has been around for a long, long time. Sad Puppies is Campbellians vs. New Wave, round 49.

  76. I will confess to having read just one Varley book, and that one was Steel Beach. The gender swapping was strange to imagine. But I could get over it. What bothered me more was the abject nihilism of the society. Varley’s future humans were bereft of hope, and attempted to fill the void by sating strange appetites. The protagonist repeatedly tries to kill him/her self. And while there was a nod to plucky libertarianism, the fact that humans had been exiled to the moon, and seemed content to while away the rest of eternity with a pernicious sort of bread-and-circuses existence, left me cold. I haven’t been able to pick up a Varley book since. Steel Beach was not a read I’d call worthwhile or fulfilling.

  77. Brad, there is no diminishing numbers in SFF…because there are no numbers. The numbers you see everywhere are Print Sales numbers. They do not include ebook sales.

    This is like discussing volumes by comparing lengths, and not including widths or heights.

  78. “Science fiction used to be Boy Scouts in Space. Now you wouldn’t dare to leave the average science fiction author alone with a Boy Scout for 10 minutes.”

    As the mother of three Boy Scouts, this really made me laugh. Unfortunately, Vox is spot on.

  79. “Except that Varley wrote examples of the type of “SJW” writing to rival anything Swirsky puts out, and received awards for it.”

    Uhh… no. Varley wrote science fiction stories. Swirsky’s award-winner is neither science fiction nor a story (swiped from John C. Wright, I believe).

    Varley also sold metric craptons of books.

    Other than that, great point.

    You just don’t get it. I don’t think anyone has objected to there being SJW stories as long as they are, in fact, stories. The objection is to the monoculture of political indoctrination dressed up as “stories”.

  80. Brad: “you could be pretty sure you were going to get a rousing space adventure featuring starships and distant, amazing worlds”

    Your claim of what Brad said: “books with a planet on the cover don’t necessarily have boy scout sort of protagonists and morally black-and-white situations anymore.”

    In what language are these “exactly the same”? He said nothing whatsoever about “boy scouts” or “morally black-and-white situations”.

    You, sir, are a liar. A clumsy one.

  81. “No “boy scouts”. No “morally black-and-white situations”.”

    Fremen are boy scouts … or maybe boy Scots … and the situations are black and white … if you own an old enough television.

    See he was telling the truth! #SJWLogic

  82. Excluding the Heinlein juveniles that were, in fact, written for Boy Scouts, can anyone think of some examples of these “boy scout sort of protagonists”?

    Lazarus Long, maybe?
    Ender?
    Captain Nemo?
    William Mandella?
    Gully Foyle?
    Hiro Protagonist?
    Severian?

  83. Severian, Hiro, (and Y,T. from the same book) and the rest there are awesome characters, but I don’t think I’d classify any of them as boy scouts.

    Steve Rodgers, now sure, he fits the bill.

    Ooh. Oh. Here’s one: Michael Carpenter in the Dresden Files. Or how about Adam Hauptman in Patty Brigg’s stuff?

    Then there’s Black Jack Geary, though I doubt there are still boy scouts in the year whatever thousands it takes place in. Personally I like his wife better, she’s a real no nonsense type warrior woman.

    Honor Harrington would have made a great boy scout. 😛

  84. Using Dune to compare what Brad actually said and what Carnage claimed that he said.

    Rousing space adventure (Brad) — check.
    Starships (Brad) — check.
    Distant, amazing worlds (Brad) — check.
    Boy scout sort of protagonists (Carnage) — wrong.
    Morally black and white situations (Carnage) — wrong.

  85. “Honor Harrington would have made a great boy scout.”

    Agreed. Those characters do exist. The problem is that Carnage and his ilk pretend that nothing else existed before “brave” “innovators” like themselves came along.

    Transgendered people? Heinlein’s “All You Zombies” had a transgendered character. In 1959.

  86. Dune even has a ton of really out there social stuff – the Bene Gessetit and their Sexy Fu comes to mind, (I dare you to find a better way to describe it.) but it was there as part of the story, not the excuse for it.

  87. Ah. Hiro Protagonist. I actually had that book get covered in a literature class in college. Blade Runner too. (And Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) The University of Utah’s English department would give most ‘serious’ departments a fit, but they taught well and covered a lot of interesting and fun books.

  88. –> Uhh… no. Varley wrote science fiction stories. Swirsky’s award-winner is neither science fiction nor a story (swiped from John C. Wright, I believe). […] You just don’t get it. I don’t think anyone has objected to there being SJW stories as long as they are, in fact, stories. The objection is to the monoculture of political indoctrination dressed up as “stories”.

    If you reread my post, I said that Varley’s “Persistence of Vision” specifically does not have much of a plot either. It’s the kind of “guy wanders around an imaginary society and interacts with people” non-story that De Camp was decrying as early as the 50s. It’s small-scale Bellamy with blind orgies.

    You’re on firmer ground with the “not science fiction” argument for the dino story, but I never claimed that Swirsky’s story was SFF, either. I said it was no more pointlessly, plotlessly SJW-y than Varley’s.

    –> Varley also sold metric craptons of books.

    Yeah. I also didn’t say everything Varley wrote was SJW propaganda. Nor did I say that Swirsky was as good a writer as Varley. I said that Varley wrote a blatant example of SJW message-before-story stuff by Sad Puppies standards, and got all three major awards for it.

    ———————————————-

    Basically, I’m making a more limited point than you seem to think I am. The stuff you’re complaining about didn’t emerge in a vacuum.

  89. Speaking of packaging, both of the times I have come to this site I see the smoking hot chick on the jet bike right at the top of the page–yet I find no mention of her story anywhere.

  90. “The University of Utah’s English department”

    While I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting the state, it’s become clear in recent years that SJW Cartoon Utah has little, if anything, in common with real Utah.

    I already knew that SJW Cartoon Mormons have little in common with real LDS folks, having had several members of that faith as coworkers over the years.

  91. Carnage: “Additionally: antiheroes, political themes and experimentation (which you Sad Puppy people are against, I guess) have been around in SFF from the 60s onwards when the new wave science fiction writers came forward. Cyberpunk of the 80s had lots of commentary on capitalism and morally gray characters (the opposite of “good guys shooting bad people in the aforementioned motherf-ing face”) etc. Nothing new there, really.”

    No, nothing new. I’d like to suggest that genres have specific genre conventions. I’d like to suggest that “literature” is a genre as formulaic as Mystery or Sci-fi or Romance. Science fiction has always been about experimentation and shades of gray and what about our society could be upended and what would happen if it were. Those aren’t the anti-sci-fi parts that had people reading and getting to the end and saying, “WTF?” Because people expected those subjects to be encased in gosh-wow with an adventure and usually some sort of triumph at the end, even if by some measure it all ended badly. They expected Nutty Nuggets.

    Take a truly classic example… The Cold Equations. As a sci-fi story it rocks. The pilot has the moral strength to do what he must. Didn’t the stowaway also ultimately accept it too? It’s a powerful and moving story. It’s also an amazing example of manly men doing things in a manly manner instead of wallowing in some moral gray zone where futility is the ultimate truth.

    There is a vast difference between something that makes you feel good in the end, and something that convinces you that humans are a cancer on the universe. Go read Io9 for a while, and do it with this in mind. LOOK for the anti-human sentiment. I joke that their slogan is “We come from the future… and the lights are out.” Look at the comments. Humans are bad, gonna wreck everything, we sure need less of us, blah, blah, blah. This has been the majority of the whole sci-fi genre for decades. All the supposed “issues” that are so important now always were in science fiction. What there wasn’t in the Golden Age and even before was the anti-human, anti-progress sentiment.

    Glass city of shining spires and chrome needle spaceships circa 1950…. “Wow! Look what humans can do!”

    Glass city of shining spires and chrome needle spaceships circa 1980-present…. “OMG… Humans pave over every d*mn thing they get their hands on, don’t they.”

  92. ” I said that Varley wrote a blatant example of SJW message-before-story stuff by Sad Puppies standards, and got all three major awards for it.”

    You are still missing the point. Here, let me repeat it for you:

    No one objects to SJW stories as such. Some of them are even good. I like (early) Varley a lot. Brad Torgersen doesn’t care for him. No harm, no foul.

    The objection is to political indoctrination pieces masquerading as “stories”, and getting awards largely due to their political content rather than their literary merit.

    You agree that Swirsky isn’t as good a writer as Varley. How about Leckie? Where would you rank her in comparison to Varley? What do you imagine the Amazon sales rank of Ancillary Justice will be 50 years from now?

  93. Yep. Don’t get me wrong, we have our sanctimonious jagoffs too, just like anyone else, but for the most part Utah is fairly libertarian leaning conservative, and friendly.

    (Most part – the idiots in the legislature seem to be afraid of teh booze, etc. No one’s perfect.)

    We do have tons and tons of writers though, so, yay.

  94. –> You are still missing the point. Here, let me repeat it for you: No one objects to SJW stories as such.

    I didn’t say “SJW stories as such.”

    I mentioned one specific SJW story that put message ahead of story — to the point that there was no plot — and that loaded itself with every SJW trope in the books, apparently for its own sake. It beat out works that, as far as I know, actually did have plots aside from SJW messages. I bet that at least some of them had three dimensional characters rather than the people that Varley used for his utopia. Yes, “Persistence of Vision” had better prose than Swirsky’s. But it was up against Gene Wolfe that year, so I doubt it won on flowery language either. How is that not exactly what you’re describing?

    You’d argue that they do it a lot more now. That’s fine. But that wasn’t what my post was disputing.

  95. “You’d argue that they do it a lot more now.”

    No, I’d argue that it’s almost all they do.

    Doing something the first time may be ground-breaking and even award-worthy (especially if it’s done by a great writer such as Varley). Doing it the three hundredth time is trite, especially when it’s a paint-by-numbers job by a C list writer. We’ve all seen the SJW schtick before. We get it. Time to move on.

  96. Grimspace : Sirantha Jax, Book 1, by Ann Aguirre – there’s a frugging woman on the cover, yet you’re surprised that she has sex? Heinlein’s “Friday” had a hot chick on the cover and spent VAST amounts of time on her love-life.
    No, I’m not surprised that she has sex. I am a) annoyed that she’s a proud slut about it, (100% SJW) and b) pissed off that pages and my time was wasted with third rate sex scenes when I thought I was going to be reading space opera. As for a “frugging woman” on the cover, did something additional happen in the last 15 years so that if there’s a woman on the cover of a SF book it means there’s going to be gratuitous sex scenes? If a writer wants to write sex scenes, then traipse on over to the racier romance novels or Penthouse Letters. I sure as heck didn’t expect to stumble into “Sex innnnnnn Spaaaaaace”. (Note that I had close to the same reaction to Ringo’s Kildar BDSM nonsense)

    One of the, perhaps odd, things about me is I have no interest in the minutae of what people do behind closed doors.

  97. SBP:
    In what language are these “exactly the same”? He said nothing whatsoever about “boy scouts” or “morally black-and-white situations”.

    If you want to insult everyone who disagrees with you instead of trying to listen, fine. Golden Age sense of wonder and mostly unproblematic moralities versus subversive themes and stuff relating to real-world problems is the thing that was discussed, though, as we all know.

    But you brought up Dune and that’s a good example: an entertaining but not very thought-provoking book when you read it now. It’s a good adventure novel and I’m sure it was something that blew your mind in its time.

    When you compare it to Kameron Hurley’s books, for example, I think it’s fair to say that the latter has more to say about shades of gray moralities. Some of us like that sort of thing and some of us do not.

  98. Cpt. Carnage –
    I think you might have missed the point. The Sad Puppies campaign isn’t saying a story can’t explore those themes but that the story development should come before the message.

  99. “If you want to insult everyone who disagrees with you instead of trying to listen, fine.”

    No, just liars.

    “Golden Age sense of wonder and mostly unproblematic moralities versus subversive themes and stuff relating to real-world problems is the thing that was discussed, though, as we all know.”

    Liar. “We” know nothing of the sort. “What you keep pretending the discussion is about” and “what the discussion is actually about” are not the same thing. Lies are not the same as truth.

    Let’s apply your “exact same thing” to a few other classics, shall we?

    The Ender series:

    Rousing space adventure (Brad) — check.
    Starships (Brad) — check.
    Distant, amazing worlds (Brad) — check.
    Boy scout sort of protagonists (Carnage) — wrong.
    Morally black and white situations (Carnage) — wrong.

    Stranger in a Strange Land:

    Rousing space adventure (Brad) — check.
    Starships (Brad) — not really. Interplanetary space ships, though.
    Distant, amazing worlds (Brad) — check.
    Boy scout sort of protagonists (Carnage) — wrong.
    Morally black and white situations (Carnage) — wrong.

    Ringworld:

    Rousing space adventure (Brad) — check.
    Starships (Brad) — check.
    Distant, amazing worlds (Brad) — check.
    Boy scout sort of protagonists (Carnage) — wrong.
    Morally black and white situations (Carnage) — wrong.

    The Forever War:

    Rousing space adventure (Brad) — check.
    Starships (Brad) — check.
    Distant, amazing worlds (Brad) — check.
    Boy scout sort of protagonists (Carnage) — wrong.
    Morally black and white situations (Carnage) — wrong.

    Your “exact same thing” is not the same thing at all, is it? In fact, it’s a lie. You are now attempting to double down on your lie. You’re not going to get away with it.

  100. Honor Harrington would have made a great boy scout.

    Honor Harrington would have made the greatest Boy Scout of all time. She would have been drafted into leadership of the BSA, which position she would reluctantly, but ultimately accept, before accidentally conquering both Bolivia and Peru while leading a Scout troop on a camping trip there. Then she would single-handedly create peace in the Middle East while on vacation in Jerusalem, after which the President of the United States would appoint her Vice-President and resign, because it would be a crime against the humanity to keep the most wonderfulest wonderful person ever out of the Oval Office.

    When you compare it to Kameron Hurley’s books, for example, I think it’s fair to say that the latter has more to say about shades of gray moralities. Some of us like that sort of thing and some of us do not.

    Translation: Kameron Hurley has absolutely nothing substantive or intelligent to say about morality. “Shades of gray” is SJW-speak for being moralblind, as I demonstrated in an online debate with R. Scott Bakker a few years ago. Those who like that sort of nonsense tend to be uncomfortable with the basic concepts of right and wrong. What is amusing is to see them try to work the concepts back in for plot purposes after banishing them.

    SJW novels can be entertaining if you know how to read them. I rather enjoy seeing the way they blindly imitate traditional tropes, but get them hopelessly wrong because they don’t understand the logic behind the tropes. Why is X the “bad guy” when the morality is all “shades of grey”. This is why SJW authors like Stross descend so reliably into shock as a substitute for immorality; they have no other basis for utilizing the conventional tropes they want to use.

  101. VD: “Translation: Kameron Hurley has absolutely nothing substantive or intelligent to say about morality.”

    She also apparently fails to tell an entertaining story.

    From the Amazon listing for “God’s War”, apparently her best-known book:

    Shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award
    Shortlisted for the BSFA Award
    Shortlisted for the Nebula Award
    Shortlisted for the Locus Award, Best Debut Novel
    WINNER: Kitschy Award, Best Debut Novel
    WINNER: Sydney J. Bounds Award

    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,883 Paid in Kindle Store

    There we have it in a nutshell, don’t we?

  102. kamas716:
    I think you might have missed the point. The Sad Puppies campaign isn’t saying a story can’t explore those themes but that the story development should come before the message.

    Well, this is easy to say but hard to really nail down what is the case when, in your opinion, “story development comes before the message” and when it does not. I’ve argued before that it’s only a matter of subjective taste: different people like to have different amounts of different things in the books they read.

    It would be interesting to know what examples you have of good books dealing with gender issues that have been published during the last couple of years. You guys have said that Ancillary Justice was badly-written, but nobody has given examples of good books. After all, pretty much everybody has been saying that these sort of themes can be explored in SF/F.

  103. SBP, nice that you bring up Forever War. In my book, it’s one of the most left-wing and anti-war SFF novels I can think of right next to Iain M. Banks’s and Ken McLeod’s stuff. Maybe our tastes are not that separate after all.

    You have admit though, that the morality of Forever War and other new wave writers (Delany, LeGuin, Moorcock etc.) is less black and white than it is in Dune and the Campbellian stuff.

  104. “SBP, nice that you bring up Forever War. In my book, it’s one of the most left-wing and anti-war SFF novels”

    That might be an interesting, if unoriginal, observation, if it actually had anything to do with the topic under discussion. It doesn’t. I see you’ve also bought into the risible notion that “left-wing” and “antiwar” have something in common. They don’t.

    1. Brad posted some criteria that he expects to see in an SF novel.
    2. You posted a cartoon parody of Brad’s position, claiming that it was the “exact same thing”.
    3. When things are exactly the same, they behave identically in all circumstances. If they fail to behave identically in even one instance, they are not “exactly the same”.
    4. I posted numerous examples where Brad’s criteria and your cartoon parody fail to agree on ANYTHING, much less everything.
    5. Therefore, your claim that the criteria and the cartoon parody are exactly the same is false.
    6. Repeating a falsehood when one knows that it is false is a lie.
    7. You have done that.
    8. Therefore, you are a liar.

    QED.

    “You have admit though, that the morality of Forever War and other new wave writers (Delany, LeGuin, Moorcock etc.) is less black and white than it is in Dune and the Campbellian stuff.”

    I “have to admit” nothing of the sort.

  105. SBP:
    The fact that you say books on a random list have some qualities and don’t have some others does not make it so. If we leave Forever War aside, the other books are more straightforward adventure stories and deal less with the themes Brad says in the post he doesn’t care so much about than, say, Kameron Hurley’s (or LeGuin’s or Delany’s or Moorcock’s or Russ’s or Ballard’s) books. Dune, Ender and Ringworld are definitely closer to the boy scout and morally black/white end of the spectrum, whatever you want to call it.

  106. You need to stop talking about this as “gender issues.” At least be honest and call it what it’s proponents call themselves: “gender abolitionists.” AJ is fundamentally dedicated to the that idea – the eradication of gender distinctions – not some nebulous word like “issues.”

    If you think that’s an important issue to explore, then just say so. Why anyone would think it’s of any particular interest to a genre like SF other than some fringe sideshow is beyond me to figure out. However, what is easy to figure out is why radical feminists are obsessed with the idea and see it as the centerpiece of their SF. The fact is that without some serious drama and storytelling it’s just plain boring. And that’s the point these identity-addicts miss. They are so obsessed with the idea of seeing themselves in fiction (predicated on the stupid idea I read Heinlein cuz he was white) they forget that identity isn’t in and of itself interesting.

    The truth is Leckie set up the parameters of a world and then failed to exploit it and explore it. Her failure was predictable since “gender” is considered a star all by itself. In the hands of a neutral author like John Varley, you’ll get a story to go along with the parameters, such as “The Barbie Murders.”

    As for writing, I’m laughing that anyone would compare Hurley to Herbert and Leckie to Varley. They are amateurs vs. pros.

    Steel Beach is not a very good example of Varley. I’d try his first two short story collections. Even then, one has to imagine everything written afterwords doesn’t exist – a hard thing to do. I read them in real time. They were very good.

  107. “Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,883 Paid in Kindle Store”

    And she’s something special? Hell, I have a novelette that’s gotten no recognition to speak of from much of anyone that’s higher than that.

    Wow.

    Color me unimpressed.

  108. @ James May

    Well, identity may not be interesting to you but an overwhelming majority of Hugo voters thought there’s something they liked in Ancillary Justice, whatever it was. Maybe you ought to reflect on the fact that perhaps a novel that deals with gender issues and is written by a feminist female writer is not written with male fans of old school SF in mind and those readers may have a harder time enjoying it, especially if they think feminism is a force towards negative change (as you seem to think).

    You have said that Ancillary Justice is badly written, but would you, for real, be able to enjoy any gender-themed book written by a female feminist? Is there such a book?

  109. “The fact that you say books on a random list have some qualities and don’t have some others does not make it so.”

    The text of the books makes it so, liebot.

  110. “And she’s something special?”

    I think it is pretty clear that she is not, despite being nominated for several major awards, and winning some minor ones.

  111. “So now we have a Straw Brad to go with Straw Sarah and Straw Larry.”

    Is there a Strawperson Of The Month Club? I want the whole set. 😎

  112. “Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,883 Paid in Kindle Store”

    Uh, yeah. Sword & Sorceress 26–an Indie anthology although admittedly with some of the remaining cachet of the original series–is usually in that ballpark or better. That kind of rank is what I get with one of my self-pubbed stories when I sell _one_ copy.

    So, yeah, remarkably unimpressed.

  113. “That kind of rank is what I get with one of my self-pubbed stories when I sell _one_ copy.”

    Dune, which Carnage would have us believe is irrelevant in the modern world — only read by angry old white men — is sitting at 1,136.

    The problem with Carnage’s theory is that all the angry old white men already own copies of Dune. Someone is buying those new copies — actually, somewhere around 80 times as many people as are buying Hurley’s book. Not bad for a fifty year old novel.

  114. SBP:
    Dune, which Carnage would have us believe is irrelevant in the modern world — only read by angry old white men — is sitting at 1,136.

    LOL. I know it sells very well. Maybe you should reread what I said about it.

  115. “Maybe you should reread what I said about it”

    Maybe you should stop lying and retract your previous lies.

  116. Pingback: Hugos, Sad Puppies, and other critters | T.L. Knighton

  117. “You have said that Ancillary Justice is badly written, but would you, for real, be able to enjoy any gender-themed book written by a female feminist?”

    I can’t speak for James, but I can certainly explain why I’m not myself a fan of most feminist SF: I don’t like reading stories whose philosophical/thematic point incorporates, or is largely dependent on, hostility towards key parts of my identity, whether that be anti-male feminism, anti-religious atheism or anti-het queer stories. (Though it should be noted that most pro-LGBT stuff I’ve read, and a lot of pro-agnostic/atheism stuff, is actually much less hostile to its nominal “opposition” as a general thing than most self-consciously feminist SF I’ve seen.)

    I’ve said in other contexts that part of the reason Ancillary Justice put me off is because its central gimmick just felt basically hostile to me in this way: it felt like the author was trying to say to every male reader, “See, this is what it feels like when the ‘basic language default’ excludes you.” Now that may be a point worth making, but taking an entire novel to make it and expecting me to meekly give up already-scarce leisure reading time to that end seems to me to be a backfiring tactic. I am willing to concede that my perception of this basic hostility may be as much my undue inference as any actual implication, but I would like people who see the same “hostility” in stuff *I* like to at least consider the same possibility of their own error.

  118. I read Mr Gerrib’s request for even a single example of a science fiction novel that fit this description of a sucker punch hidden in a story. On the same day, the same hour, I found this description of what is politely called a transsexual character being introduced into MAGIC: THE GATHERING material.

    Whether this fits the bill, I am not sure, but the mere coincidence renders it worthy of mention. I, for one, consider novels based on games and shows to be science fiction.

    “The tale depicts an Orc who fights for the Mardu clan, which is lead by Alesha. During the battle the Orc questions Alesha’s gender [sic], after failing to kill a dragon and claim his own name. The story goes on about the battle and eventually ends with other warriors detailing deeds that deemed the Orc worthy of the name. However at the end the Orc admits he has yet to figure out who he is and willfully acknowledges that Alesha is in fact a woman.”

    (For those of you who do not know, gender is a part of speech, and is sometimes used as a technical term in anthropology to describe male and female social roles. For some reason that does not bear close examination, certain — let us call them ‘odd’ and leave it at that — certain odd people use this word extensively and exclusively for the word sex. If you substitute the word sex for the word gender in the sentence above, it becomes legible. The Orc is not questioning how to decline verbs in Latin.)

  119. “You have said that Ancillary Justice is badly written, but would you, for real, be able to enjoy any gender-themed book written by a female feminist? Is there such a book?”

    The question is lunatic. What about LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS? Or is Ursula K LeGuin somehow not a female feminist? Or is writing about a world where all humans are sexless except once a month, whereupon he becomes male or female, some how not a book about the social roles of the sexes?

  120. Mr. Carnage there is feminism and feminism. The difference between equal rights feminism and gender feminism is the difference between a legal rights initiative and the KKK. That answers all of your questions in that regard. No, I do not enjoy gender feminist literature, because it stipulates I am an n-word and continually uses racial slurs. Some of last year’s Hugo Award winners and nominees use newly minted racial slurs coined just for me like “white cis-dude” or just old fashioned ones like “old white men.” If that’s “feminism” then eff them. I have never seen one of these dolts use the words “white” or “men” other than in a pejorative sense. The Campbell Winner thinks she lives in a white supremacy. One of the Campbell nominees was Requires Hate.

    The other feminism can and has written good SF I enjoy. C.S. Friedman’s In Conquest Born is to me one of the brightest space operas ever written and explicitly uses gender roles as a center-piece. The difference is it is not lesbian SF, which is what gender abolition feminism is centered about, its sheer sociopathy, hostility, racism and supremacy aside.

    In terms of plot the difference is between using a subject to power say, a murder mystery rather than a mini-genre in its own right where lesbian feminist messaging trumps plot. There is a reason the list of Tiptree winners since its inception in 1991 suck. There is a reason gay and black literature occupies its own section of a bookstore: it’s too heavy on identity and hostility for most people’s tastes. A gay or black version of the Wizard of Oz. Okay, I get it – not interesting. A zombie who can’t see gender; yawn. That’s as interesting as a Men’s Rights version of Dune where the Bene Gesserit control the divorce courts. Please save me from such “SF.”

    The reason the Hugo voters and other awards liked AJ is plain enough to me: they see themselves as ’60s Freedom Riders fighting racism and sexism. I have enough documentation of that to satisfy myself. When the president of the SFWA is flogging white privilege that is game, set and match in that regard.

    I do not think AJ is badly written so much as badly told. Had it used it’s gender themes in the way Friedman did it might have been a totally different book. Instead it used them to no real account as a flavor-of-the-week. Her prose smacks of Clarion Workshop drudgery and has no weight to it. It is not award-winning writing. It does not possess that awareness. Her writing on AJ is not even on the level of a relative throw-away novel like The Rebel Worlds by Poul Anderson. Anderson’s paragraphs jump and dive and twirl within themselves in a way that would be hard to replicate. They do not sit on a flat surface. I think C.L. Moore was something like 22 when she wrote “Shambleau,” and that title alone got a standing ovation in 1975 a an SF convention. Asimov was 21 when he started in on Foundation. You think Leckie’s going to get standing O’s for AJ in 42 years? And both Moore and Asimov followed up with impressive careers. They’re more likely to get standing O’s 42 years from today. Plus they didn’t hate my guts.

    Palace, written by Katherine Kerr and Mark Kreighbaum is a gem compared to AJ. When it went out of print copies of the PB were selling on Ebay for 75 bucks because there were no ebooks. Today it is forgotten. Where was this savvy Hugo crowd of voters then? I’ll tell you where: no one told them how to vote. AJ was flogged by the fem-brigade from day one as THE SF novel of the year and one of the greatest space opera ever written and for one reason only: its theme of the abolition of gender, though it isn’t even worked into the plot. It’s just there, bereft, unused, divorced. Still, happy claps all around. Dallas used to be one of the highest rated TV shows around. I thought it fit only for morons, so don’t tell me about how rednecks vote. Did you get a look at the emcees of last year’s Hugos? If there have ever been a more conservative pair straight from just watching their DVD collection of The A-Team I’d like to know who that would be. Mad Magazine and underground comix were created because of stiffs like that. Mad’s Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions weren’t written by SJWs, they were the one’s asking the stupid questions. “Ummm, why are you holding that ‘Smash the Patriarchy’ sign?” “Because the bulldozer behind you has no arms.” “Because I want the Patriarchy over for tea and I’m using child psychology.” “Because my husband is too stupid to know how to spell ‘Love’.”

    Let me tell you something about rednecks: just because there are no leaping cars and Boss Hogg’s doesn’t mean that Hugo slate wasn’t anything other than today’s equivalent of Eight Is Enough. I publicly predicted AJ would be nominated for a Nebula and Hugo before I even read it. Leckie publicly laughed at me on Twitter for saying that. That’s how predictable these idiots are. Leckie likes to think her talent won. Well, let me make another prediction: Leckie will sink out of sight as quickly as her stock rose; there’s nothing there. She’s going to have to write a lot of blog posts about white cis-dudes punching her out just to tread water. Even Scalzi has to repeatedly defame white men just to keep his hand in the game and Jim Hines wouldn’t exist if it were not for his anti-white, anti-male blog. There’s your good writing. It consists of nothing more than making sure your membership in the women’s auxiliary of the KKK is up to date. Good luck with that career.

  121. “His stated problem is that books with a planet on the cover don’t necessarily have boy scout sort of protagonists and morally black-and-white situations anymore”

    I don’t understand why the SJW Morlocks (and Capt Carnage has outed himself as one) simply tell lies in situations where the truth is readily available: there is nobody able to see those words unable to scroll of the page and see what the original post was about. He says something he does not believe and no one reading him is likely to believe. So why say it?

    I believe it is a credo, a magical juju, the use of words not to describe reality but to somehow get reality to change to match what the magical formula of words says. He wants there to have had been works like this in the past, back when science fiction was good, because that flatters him.

    Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back for your socially progressive mature ability to introduce hefty themes of sexual malfeasance and moral ambiguity into Science Fiction, there, bubba. No one who reads science fiction could possibly have written such a sentence: was DUNE morally unambigous? How about STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND? Yup, there was a book that was filled with boy scout sort of protagonists and morally black-and-white situations, yew betcha!

    Also, nice sneer at Boy Scouts, just in passing. Uncle Screwtape would be proud!

  122. Let me tell you where this sort of thing goes wrong. Take the 1958 urban fantasy film Bell, Book and Candle. A witch sets her sights on a man about to get married to an old enemy of hers. An SJW author would just swap out heterosexual for gay and there’s an end to it. That works fine in real life but stories aren’t real life; they work on a preponderance of evidence type of rule. You can have an astronaut living next door in Terms of Endearment, not The Exorcist. It strains at credibility and becomes distracting. Nothing in reality does that because if it’s real and there that’s that, no matter how unlikely. If you have a Norwegian family living next door in real life in Damascus that’s that. In a novel it’s moronic without being worked into the novel.

    If one wants to make a gender version of Bell, Book and Candle work you must be clever; you have to work in some kind of plot Maguffin. Maybe one or two of the three characters in this triangle is gay, maybe the witch makes them only suddenly think that. Maybe the witch transforms herself into a man in order to be with the woman, but if she stays in that form eventually loses her powers as a witch. There are endless variations and a smart author would pile them all in after setting the parameters. That is something I can read. Not a steady diet of it but I can enjoy it. The interest for a gay author or readership is still there but takes a backseat to plot and entertainment. At the very least I don’t feel I’m being pummeled about the head. Like comedy, a thing being very funny or clever is it’s own excuse for existing. In fact, a version of Bell, Book and Candle like that, powered by a really good author, could be a fantastic screwball comedy of mistaken identity and traps a character must quickly think themselves out of.

    Ancillary Justice didn’t do anything like that. It had “New and Improved With More Gender” on the cover and then proceeded to lay an egg that rotted and stunk. And then there’s the stinking racism and bigotry of her blog post about cis dudes that will both dog and support her career forever. The problem there in that sense is dogs outnumber cats 10 to 1. Hurley has also built a career on basically saying men, especially the white ones, are pigs. That may be but they can read too.

  123. Okay, this deserves a direct reply.

    “Well, identity may not be interesting to you but an overwhelming majority of Hugo voters thought there’s something they liked in Ancillary Justice, whatever it was.”

    Yeah, they did. All couple of thousand of them.

    The more the people who are among the historical in crowd at World Con talk, the more it seems to me that they just don’t want the competition.

    For all they talk about inclusiveness and diversity their reactions to a movement to encourage the fans of other authors to vote have been vitriolic, dismissive, and laden with outright fabrications.

    How many have started saying that we’re “ballot stuffing” by bringing new fans in? Never mind that ballot stuffing is explicitly getting fraudulent votes included that don’t represent actual voters. Indeed, there have been a couple people who’ve actually claimed that Larry et. all have been sending their fans the money to vote, or making up the voters via sockpuppets.

    Seems to me that deep down they’re just worried that if even a large chunk of the ELoE’s fans bothered to vote the literary dahlings wouldn’t win anymore.

    ‘Cause none of this will endanger them reading what they like. Taste is taste, and cannot be argued, either way. Oh, sure, I am free to say I think Scalzi’s books are jumped up bad fan fiction, and Ancillary Justice was boring Drek with characters that were, at times, indistinct from one another, and you’re free to say you didn’t like Warbound because of whatever reasons you have.

    …Of course, I’ve *read* Scalzi and Leckie, how many of the people railing against us have actually read any of Larry’s stuff? Given the number of people who publicly admitted they refused to before the Hugo’s last year, I’m willing to bet it’s a minority. Heck, the few from the typical World Con group who said they *did* read it were for the most part complimentary about Warbound.

  124. Mr. Wright: “I don’t understand why the SJW Morlocks (and Capt Carnage has outed himself as one) simply tell lies in situations where the truth is readily available…I believe it is a credo, a magical juju, the use of words not to describe reality but to somehow get reality to change to match what the magical formula of words says. ”

    You may be ascribing too much cognitive depth to the likes of Carnage. The tactic of lying about what your opponent said has a long history; it can be very effective if the opponent’s original words are not available (though, as you note, it is laughably ineffective when the original words are there for all to read).

    My take is this: Carnage and his ilk are bots running scripts that were written in a country that hasn’t even existed for nearly 25 years. Their putative goals and rhetorical tricks haven’t been updated since then, and they’re simply too dense to generate new ones on their own. Naturally, as time passes, their worldview loses even a nodding acquaintance with reality and their debating tricks become ridiculous. They were always dishonest, but now they’re incompetently so.

    You might call it cargo cult Marxism. “Evil” also works.

  125. Alauda raises a good point. Why WOULD anyone care about Amazon ranking? Sure, Amazon is the largest marketplace in the world, and the higher your ranking the more likely it is that you sell your product and can go on making more of the product so that you can support yourself and a family and maybe have some left over after taxes for some real charitable works. I get all that. But Amazon is hardly the arbiter of TRUE art. A true artist must suffer for his art and only be appreciated by a small minority.

  126. Mr. Bowman, since this is the internet and tone is absent, was that intended facetiously? (Which is how I read it, but I would like to verify.)

  127. Yeah, it really is.

    I mean, I read some of their stuff, then I have to scratch my head to guess if they really believe it, or whether it’s one of us poking fun. Sometimes, I have no idea.

  128. snow1985man said:
    “So what you’re saying is that book cover tropes haven’t evolved with or aren’t addressing the expanding subjects and themes of sf/f? That publishers don’t have the courage to put on the outside what they’ve put on the inside lest they shrink their markets and, thus, they are causing consumer confusion?”

    Sounds like the start of a business prospectus to me: “Predictable SF & F … you can tell what kind of book you’re getting by what’s on the cover!”

    I’m serious here. Baen, which is rolling along nicely, does just that kind of cover.

  129. My husband is reading a book by Brin that he says is depressing. It’s taken a gosh-wow situation… first contact… and all the humans and human society are horrible and he’s thinking that Brin must be an extremely angry person. I took Ringo’s Graveyard Sky off my shelf and said… here, read something encouraging. A terrible situation, end of the world apocalypse type… and human striving and… stuff. (I actually haven’t read it yet. I’m pretty sure that it deals with morals that aren’t black and white.)

    You know… it’s not just that science fiction stopped having heroes, at least often enough that people became timid about investing in an unknown story, it’s that it stopped being okay to WANT heroes.

  130. Graveyard Sky is a very positive story. I just finished the series and thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’m well past being over the whole zombie thing.

    Personally, I like the approach of taking a horrible situation and making it awesome over taking an awesome situation and making it horrible.

  131. Re “Ancillary Justice”: I didn’t dislike this book, but of the 2013 Hugo Best Novel noms it was the one I enjoyed the least – and consequently it wound up at the bottom of my ballot. To me the whole pronoun juggling spiel was old (hell, I remember coming across something like it in Ranma 1/2 fanfic a decade ago!), and everything else about it was only mildly interesting. As far as female Mil-SF writers go, I’d say Elizabeth Moon is still way better. (For what its worth, “Neptune’s Children” got my vote for Best Novel).

    The story I did find the most annoying was in the Novella section: “Six Gun Snow White” just made my eyes roll; it was chock full of the lamest, most cliche-ridden “enlightened” stereotypes attempting to mask itself as “thoughtful” story-telling. Pretty much every diatribe you’ve ever heard from a radical feminist was somewhere in that story. I thought “Wakulla Springs” was a good story, but it wasn’t SF/F (really, Historical Fiction) and didn’t deserve to be on the ballot. I was OK with “Equoid” winning, but “Chaplain’s Legacy” got my top vote (I was also very glad to see that story expanded into “Chaplain’s War”; Mr. Torgersen, please write more in that universe!).

    I was pleased that “If You Were a Dinosaur My Darling…” didn’t win, but I thought the one that did win wasn’t much better.

    Out of curiosity, has anyone checked to see if ANY of the Sad Puppies 2 recommendations made it into any of the “Best SF of the Year” anthologies? Even as an Honorable Mention?

  132. Hey, I’ve had some broken bones. Clearly, that makes me an orthopedic surgeon.

    Actually, I can’t speak for Brad et al, but I seriously doubt you’ve been to more of those things than I have (and, incidentally, I’ve acted in a few plays including the stage version of Fiddler on the Roof, and Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew).

    So take your delusions elsewhere.

  133. My reply to that little delusion.

    Personally I’ve been going to multiple plays each year since I was in elementary school, and over the last few years I’ve made time for the Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, Utah in addition to the local theater – both of which are highly regarded nationally.

  134. He’s just pushing buttons in hopes of getting people to react.
    It seems to be the only form of human interaction he’s capable of.

  135. Stephen J, thanks for your insightful answer re feminist SF and Ancillary Justice. It’s fascinating to hear how other people react to certain books (especially stuff that I experience very differently). There’s a lot to think about in your post.

    John C. Wright:
    The question is lunatic. What about LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS? Or is Ursula K LeGuin somehow not a female feminist?

    Oh, she’s certainly feminist. Sad puppy people didn’t seem like guys who liked LeGuin, but nice to see I was mistaken. Some of Brad’s examples of SF “losing its way” immediately brought LeGuin to my mind and I have always thought of Hurley and Leckie as writers who keep on doing what she started (but maybe you see her influence on modern SF differently).

    Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back for your socially progressive mature ability to introduce hefty themes of sexual malfeasance and moral ambiguity into Science Fiction, there, bubba. No one who reads science fiction could possibly have written such a sentence: was DUNE morally unambigous?

    I try not to break my arm. 😀 I do think Dune is indeed morally quite unambigous when you compare it to a lot of new wave stuff or books that came after that.

  136. >
    >Clamps here probably gets to go on field trips thanks to his caretakers
    >
    Well, someone has to keep the short-bus drivers employed.

  137. “Sad puppy people didn’t seem like guys who liked LeGuin, but nice to see I was mistaken. ”

    “Mistaken” and “lying” are two different things, the last time I checked.

  138. *Shrug*

    Personally I like a lot of what gets held up as old school feminist writers, like Le Guin. I have no problem with there being a message to the story as long as it doesn’t overwhelm or supplant it. It’s one of the things I think Star Trek does well, for the most part. LeGuin is also a master of telling a story, regardless of the message or lack thereof.

    I simply do not see an equivalent to her talent in the recent crop of explicitly feminist writers. I would be happy to be proven wrong, but it has not happened yet.

    The fact that you find Dune morally unambiguous is very interesting indeed.

    What exactly makes morally ambiguous stories inherently superior to ones with clear heroes and villains? Not individually, as there are doubtless ones where it is done superbly, but inherently?

    I ask because I often see the idea put forth as an assumption without any discussion backing it up.

  139. Yes clamps, it is. It was also a private museum, free to do whatever they want, even if it is silly.

    See, Utah’s so awesome we have tons of things like private museums, public ones, and all kinds of cultural awesomeness.

  140. Re: Moral ambiguity

    My $0.02, for what it’s worth.

    Dune is more morally ambiguous than The Forever War. The latter is a brilliant, scathing novel, but it’s very forthright about its message. Everything about organized violence in The Forever War is senseless and brutal. That’s what gives the novel its power.

    The Forever War did strongly clash with Campbellianism, with the certitudes of books like Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, and with what we’d call the 60’s/70’s Establishment. It looked a lot more honestly at \MilSF tropes than its contemporaries, and its author was perfectly qualified to make those judgments because he could enrich the novel with his own experiences. But that doesn’t make it morally ambiguous, just subversive of the status quo.

    Dune, on the other hand, IS morally ambiguous, or at the very least morally alien. Its posthuman hero commits genocide in a religious war across the galaxy because Destiny Says So — or at least Destiny as he himself sees it. Its villains are very close to its heroes, genetically and in terms of their intellectual frameworks. The hero’s backers, the Fremen, are independence-loving environmentalists…and murderous fanatics. The politics are anything but cheerfully clear-cut, since the “rebels” unleash a religious war on the galaxy, while the “Empire” is hardly a monolithic bloc, but rather a compromise between factions of varying moral rectitude. You can view the struggle through a variety of lenses: heroic mysticism, a revenge story, or even the amoral gears of genetic destiny turning on an interstellar scale.

    If Dune had been written AFTER “Star Wars” hit the mainstream, people would look at it as a brutal deconstruction of every Star Wars trope there was. And I don’t mean “deconstruction” in the shallow sense that some readers use it today, as a synonym for Grimdark. Dune doesn’t deface the conventional narrative, but shoves a bunch of uncomfortable perspectives and consequences into it organically.

    As for Moorcock — I assume we’re talking about his Eternal Champion stuff rather than Gloriana/Mother London/The Chinese Agent/etc. If so, I’m not sure that “morally ambiguous” is the best label for Moorcock. M.M. himself discussed how the Elric stories were basically YA adventures where Elric’s emotional outbursts and exaggerated flaws existed to appeal to his angsty teenage audience, not to explore deep moral issues. (See: “Death is No Obstacle”). Even so, he intentionally copied the traditional 19th century formula that you made your choices and paid your penalties for them — and this despite the fact that Moorcock claimed to have rejected traditional 19th century morality through his Law/Chaos dichotomy.

  141. Le Guin is probably more ambiguous than any of them, but even Le Guin sometimes wallops her readers over the head with her This Is What You Should Believe club — like the hunters in “Buffalo Gals Won’t You Come Out Tonight”, or the cartoonish villain in “The Word for World is Forest”.

  142. Yes, Clamps, because a single museum in private hands is automatically the voice of an entire state.

    You’re just a special kind of moron, aren’t you?

  143. I’m surprised anyone would say Dune lacked moral ambiguity compared to anything. In fact it is a signature SF novel of conflicting moralities. Herbert was not a man to waste words and he often left little clues rather than spelling things out for you. When a character states about the Harkonnens, “Perhaps it’s a fault in their education,” you are meant to understand this is not cowboys and indians.

    At the end of Dune Paul goes off on the certainty of his jihad only to be morally and spiritually broken after 12 years of it. In the third book he even preaches against himself. And lest anyone think that is after the fact, there are clear clues in Dune this would all take place. Paul’s own father confesses he uses propaganda to make the Atreides seem better than they are. And what is more morally ambiguous than creating a universe which purposefully turns its back on sectors of its own highly advanced technology on the theory it corrupts? And that universe strives to cheat those rules by producing ever more advanced technologies to which many turn a blind eye.

    Herbert lays out a case for where certainty leads to and the conclusion is it is a genetic loop and a trap that can only finally be solved by making humans so phobic about institutions and the eternal conflict they guarantee that only a Golden Path that itself guarantees a scattering beyond the reach of those bottlenecked institutions can free humanity from its own stupidity.

    There are no easy answers in Dune and good people and bad have shades of dark and light rarely found in ANY era of SF. And let’s not confuse the Dark Knight/grimdark/Raymond Chandlerization of SFF with nuance. Even Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire has more of the heart of gold trope about it than actual shadings of conflicted characters.

  144. Massachusetts likes electing pedophiles to Congress and murderers to the Senate, too. No Sale,

  145. I’m not sure I understand your point. Are you saying that SFF shouldn’t discuss social or political issues? I consider myself a fan of Sci-Fi since childhood and my favourite authors are the ones who challenge things. For instance, the Dispossessed by Ursula LeGuin compares communism and capitalism for instance. A Brave New World by Huxley challenges conformism. Take any Terry Pratchett, you get a satyre of society. Why should SFF all be about battles, hairy dudes and saving the princess? Btw, I’m a woman and I’m interested in books where women are poor little things that need saving.
    I want SFF novels that challenge my thoughts and beliefs. I actually think it’s the point of SFF. There’s no contradiction between “epic” and “thought-provoking”.

  146. Angelique,

    I tend to look at it like this: issues, in the service of exploration and adventure, work great. This is why I am a huge fan of Star Trek. The various iterations of this franchise have dealt with innumerable hot-button topics and current social issues, but the adventure and exploration was always the spine of the storytelling.

    For the past 20 years (within literary SF) more and more, it seems to me that the issues have begun to gradually become the spine, and adventure and exploration gets sidelined. I think this works great for readers (and authors and editors) for whom issues are their raison d’être. But I don’t think this suffices for many readers and fans who remember when the genre used to have adventure and exploration as the central tent pole. So, little by little, the audience has drifted away. As we can see from the ever-declining industry numbers.

    The Hugos especially have become prone to focusing on issues-first fiction. If not outright tokenism and affirmative action, for the sake of the sexuality, gender, and ethnicity of the authors themselves. In those cases, the content of the story is practically irrelevant. It’s the box-checking that counts.

    Sad Puppies stands up and says, “Wait a minute, we think that’s a bad idea.”

  147. Here’s something to think about regarding message fiction, which I define differently from fiction with a message. Message fiction is primarily about the message, while fiction with a message is stuff like those great Star Trek episodes and some of the classic SF books that touched on those things. The story came first, with the message being secondary.

    Message fiction is nothing more than preaching to the choir. It’s not “speaking truth to power” or anything else except running your mouth to people just like you. You think your story about the trials and tribulations of a lesbian transsexual Inuit will make things easier for people like that? Not really, since the only people who are likely to read it are people interested in issues like those faced by lesbian transsexual Inuits.

    However, if you’ve got a kick ass story (and no, that doesn’t REALLY mean good people shooting bad people in the face…that’s just the kind of thing I prefer), then that’s what will draw people in. You can still talk about some of the issues, within the context of the story, and guess what will happen? People who normally don’t give a flying flip about lesbian transsexual Inuits are far more likely to read the story and…GASP! Learn about these issues!

    If you have a crusade you’re fighting for, so be it. However, how much good are you really doing by telling people who already agree with you things they already believe?

    Tell a good story and grab me, and you’ve got a better chance of “teaching” me about these things.

  148. @Angélique:

    Yeah, ideological fiction always had a place in sci fi, and good SF has always been an opinionated field. It can even be fun.

    But Sad Puppies is making the point that ONE SUBGENRE of ideological fiction — the left-leaning equivalent of Atlas Shrugged — is massively overrepresented at the awards.

    Even less-ideological fiction needs to stay away from right-wing ideas if it wants to win.

  149. I’ll also just note that Swirsky is a bad example for both sides, since it’s possible that she’s a performance artist satirizing the left.

    Swirsky’s Nebula-winning “The Lady Who Plucked Roses Beneath The Queen’s Window” reads like a parody of feminism. And after SF’s right-wingers started joking about feminist authors submitting dinosaur pornography for the next Hugo, she wrote “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love”.

    She may genuinely be a feminist of some sort, but I think she’s writing the equivalent of “Springtime for Hitler” and trying to see just how far it goes.

  150. Pingback: Playing by the Rules | Something Fishy

  151. What I see is a cult that hates writers like Herbert and crew because they’re white, male and straight. Tweeting no white men won an award isn’t about message fiction but about the Tweeter’s own blithe racism. Now we just had some moron claiming she won’t read fiction by white men for a year. Another wants to “de-white” their SFF library. A year ago another moron claimed they hate white belly dancers. This is being done on the premise white men were doing it. The problem is social justice warriors can’t produce those facts. That’s how you know it’s hatred powering this, not any kind of reality. There’s no debating such creepy people.

    When termites take down a house you walk away and build another. The second time you ensure the wood is treated for termites. Consider that already done and the new house under construction. Were I an SF writer I’d no more join the SFWA or accept a nomination from the Hugos than I would use cats for field goal practice. They’re termite-ridden. What kind of idiot would nominate multiple people in a single year for the Campbell Award who think America is a white supremacy. I’d nominate them for a hate group, not an award. What’s it called when you want to de-white and de-black and de-Jew things? SJWs have different rules for those three because those rules were created by bigots and shoveled off to naive middle class morons. Of course they use race to determine the right and wrong of it. I don’t, I use principle. All three are wrong. Racial and sexual defamation is always wrong, a thing the Hugo voters have conclusively and unsurprisingly proved they don’t believe. The writing was on the wall when WorldCon gave into bigots over the Ross affair instead of telling them to shove off and go ahead and boycott. In fact the Hugos would’ve been a far healthier artistic space without 80% of their termite nominees.

    Best to shove the whole affair into a dumpster. All this energy could be better spent creating a new award but with one difference: if you can’t pass a standard convention guideline for sexual and racial harassment in your non-fiction work, you are not eligible. The gulf between authors and bloggers who indulge in that as opposed to those who don’t is so wide there is no real-world possibility of being unfair to someone.

    It’s not like it’s going to be a close call. How many people declare an entire race “diabolical” or declare they want to “de-white” their fiction? That has nothing to do with SF and needs to go away. So does “diversity” and “privilege” used as racial slurs and accusations. Just start a new award and call it the “Burroughs” and tie it into the Salt Lake City Convention. It’ll be more popular and have a better field almost instantly. It’d be fun watching SJWs trying to crash in a second time and be turned away, given 80% of last year’s Hugo nominees would be ineligible because of supporting hate speech. You want to beat these people that’s how you do it, not by engaging them on their own turf. Seeing them publicly quarantined by a convention that outnumbers their own by 20 times would hasten their demise into irrelevance and make sure they never infiltrate the convention. Look what they’ve done to Readercon. Segregate them into their shitty neighborhoods rather than the other way round. Bring health and optimism back in rather than listen to endless complaint from retarded bigots. The healthy conventions are already there, you just have to join in.

  152. “When termites take down a house you walk away and build another. The second time you ensure the wood is treated for termites. Consider that already done and the new house under construction. ”

    –> The new house is already built, IMO. Larry Correia posted the Goodreads competition last year on his website, which costs exactly $0 to participate in, and apparently has millions of voters. Go through the category winners from ’09 onward, and you’ll find them a vast improvement over the Nebulas and Hugos of late.

    There’s also the Prometheus Award, FWIW.

  153. “Loncon 3 should be a place where everyone feels welcomed and comfortable.
    Discrimination or prejudiced behaviour (based on, but not limited to, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical/mental disability) is not tolerated. Harassment of any kind is not tolerated.”

    Given the behavior towards Jonathan Ross and the non-fiction writings of the vast majority of the nominees from last year, that is a complete joke. I would put teeth in that mother[redacted]. There is absolutely no reason that should not extend to bloggers and authors in their non-fiction remarks. After all, they are being considered for writings done outside the confines of the convention in the first place. The idea WorldCon would put up with someone who objected to a black emcee with comments like “black dude parade” has already been well-established; they don’t. Even a hint the emcee might do a fat joke got him in hot water. Let these fish drink their own water since they love it so much. They wanted Ross out and going by SJW standards as to why, they themselves were worse than anything Ross may have done. Shunning works both ways: either have fair rules or let the sword bite you back, because someone somewhere is going to insist on fair rules whether you like it or not. Having a set of harassment rules based as closely as possible to something Scalzi himself endorsed would be shut up icing on the cake.

  154. Can anyone tell me how a “white dude parade” is any different from a “fat broad parade,” especially considering the first was used and the second not? Let’s hear it, I’m dying to know the difference.

  155. “Shunning works both ways: either have fair rules or let the sword bite you back, because someone somewhere is going to insist on fair rules whether you like it or not. Having a set of harassment rules based as closely as possible to something Scalzi himself endorsed would be shut up icing on the cake.”

    You can insist on fair rules all you want, but I can tell you that those rules are to be enforced against cis white dudes and anyone who agrees with them. They’d just as soon we didn’t show up anyway.

  156. It’s wrong to claim that science fiction “grew up” in the 70’s and was just kid’s adventures before- there has always been literary, experimental, topical, genre-bending, ambivalent etc stories – it’s just that majority of readers always like the escapist adventures.

    I’m actually not that much against novels having a message. But the message in speculative fiction has to be something else than the latest Guardian column! It has to be something that truly makes you think and wonder. Not “aliens as the oppressed other” but something like Solaris. Timeless, universal themes about humanity.
    And Sublime. That’s what I look for in speculative fiction.

    Trendy ideological topics age badly too – or how many of you would enjoy the once popular Utopias of early 20th century with eugenics and all?

  157. Pingback: A Link Stampede | Fantasy Review Barn

  158. If I can speak briefly on audience expectations and message… this sort of thing deeply predates Sad Puppies, or science fiction as we know it. It goes back as far as story telling. Amergin in the courts of Ireland dealt with it. The Norse Skalds dealt with it. Storytellers around the world have dealt with it. It’s even in religious and pilosophical teachings: The parable and fable.

    Many old tales have morals and moral messages. The Volsunga Saga has them throughout, that’s what defines Aesop’s Fables…

    Faerie tales teach lesson after lesson: Trust to readily and get eaten (Red Riding Hood), Hard work pays off (Lizzina and the Cats, Mother Huddle, Cinderella, Kongji and Patji, etc), It is possible to rectify your mistakes (Marya Morvena’s tale, Several Norse ones), Things won’t go right the first time (Most of them), perseverance pays off (again most of them), Dragons Can Be Killed (standing in stead for all the impossible things that get over come in 90% of faerie tales). Don’t turn away help because you don’t like how it looks (The Frog Princess, Beauty and the Beast, there’s also a Russian tale, along those lines where Vassilisa Prekrasnaya is changed into a frog.) Sacrifice means something (Firebird).

    The purpose of the tale is to wrap the seed of the message around with a fertile story of imagination. Now, there were pure histories, but we’re dealing with fiction here. This is the ground work of our modern fiction. For an example of this let us use a Russian story of the firebird. (Roughly retold below)

    The tale starts long ago, when the Tsar still lived in Kiev. In a small village lived a young woman named Maryusha. She was not beautiful, but she had a gift of creating beauty with her hands. Her mother, as was traditional, taught her how to sew and stitch and embroider, when she grew she had a small shop in the town where she made things the village people did not have time to make, a jacket here, a shirt, a pair of pants or gloves. And each of them lovingly embroidered, sometimes simply with a little string of leaves by the cuffs, or the red border that must be on all clothing to keep out evil was laid out in pretty patterns. Her prices were modest and she, herself, was modest and softly spoken.

    The fame of her work spread throughout Rus and all the way to Kiev. Boyars and rich merchants came and offered her gold and gems to come with them and work only with them, but while she would happily make something for these people she refused to leave her little village. It was her home, and the things she made were valued by the farmers and craftsmen of her home as they were in the city. So year after year the Boyars went home gently rebuffed and each year her fame grew until one black day another ear heard of her. Koshchei bez Smertni sat in his great fortress in Siberia surrounded by beautiful things he coveted but did not enjoy and heard of her work and saw it with his own eyes. And he determined not just to have the work, but the worker herself.

    Disguising himself as a modest merchant he came to her village. He plied her with soft words, and great wonders he had brought to entice her, but she only shook her head, hands busy with the piece she had promised the baker. They long spoke with Koshchei growing ever more insistent that she come with him. Finally she grew alarmed and stood, and Koshchei tried to catch her arm. She wrenched herself away as Koshchei’s nature revealed itself, and tried to fling herself out the window, and as he reached for her the crimson and saffron threads she had been using to stitch tangled about her and she took to wing out the window a bird with feathers the colors of her embroidery thread, but Koschei was also awing, transforming himself into a great black hawk. The lowering sun confused even his vision and his first strike missed. She was smaller and quicker, and so she sped away but he pursued her until weariness slowed her wings and her reflexes and at last… a swipe took off primary feathers and she faltered in her flight. His talons siezed her and began to rip and tear, bright feathers scattered across all of Russia falling to the ground like tears of fire as he cried, “If you will not serve me, you will serve no one.”

    She made no answer as his claw pierced her heart and her blood was added to her feathers, before he flew away back to his own place. Yet in each place where a feather landed it was found. And each who found brought back with them a spark of her fire and her skill and her passion for beauty. Each place her blood fell, the desire to create woke in hearts, and still she serves today in the hearts of Russians.

    So what messages can be learned from this? Sacrifice has lasting effects. Opposing the devil is dangerous (Koshchei is the Russian stand in personality for the devil in most of their myths. It’s a bit more complex than that but that’s the role he serves.) Even when the bad guy ‘wins’ he looses.

    Now, I’m not going to pretend that’s award winning prose, but it tells a definite story in the Faerie Tale style. What would I expect of the same thing out of a good chunk of the current sci fi writers? Especially the ones in the hugo category? Start at the beginning. There would have been a belaboring of her lot, that she was poor, apparently with no family. The Boyars and Merchants would have been elaborated on as far more pushy than the original legend had them. She would have been badly abused by that set of characters, in great detail, generally with the implication that all the Boyars and Merchants were abusive rather than building towards Koshchei. The villagers might have added to it or might not have. She wouldn’t have gotten away from Koshchei at the beginning, and worst of all the end where her feathers and blood pass her gift to others would not have occurred. She would have died and it would have ended there with Koshchei gloating over the body or the villagers would have taken their wrath out on the next merchant or Boyar comming through town even if they had nothing to do with it. Nothing would have come of her death but complete and pointless tragedy (Good tragedy has a point). No catharsis, nothing but the audience going ‘um… that’s it?’ and ‘what did I just read?’ (Yes, I’ve seen this sort of thing actually play out in front of a live audience… the storyteller got the ‘thanks for showing up’ level of applause and that was it.)

    Fiction is an effective vehicle for messages, but the heroes and What the current crop of award winners is they are writing sermons and calling them faerie tales. Both can make the same point… but the parable, the faerie tale, the song, the myth, the legend… they are more likely to be remembered with their message than the sermon.

  159. The field has shattered irrevocably, but not into genre-fragments. There are Story First authors and Message First writers (otherwise known as propagandists).

    Currently, and for a long time, they were more or less entwined. Baen, Sad Puppies, and indie is making the distinction between the two clear, and as this becomes more and more prominent, readers will begin sorting themselves according to which they prefer. (With a few buying both and some authors so good they appeal to both.)

    In bookstores, SF authors and MF writers were shelved side by side, making it hard to distinguish unless you’d been burned before. The rise of Amazon, and customer reviews, means they are no longer shelved next to each other in alphabetical order AND you can discover the truth before you buy.

    Indeed, if you buy a Story First author, Amazon will suggest to you other Story First authors. Like Ringo? It’ll suggest Kratman. etc. Not because they care, but because they have amassed a database that shows SF readers buy SF authors. Much easier for readers to discover other authors they might like that way.

    Not one fandom, but two separate fandoms using the same tropes, but for different purposes. This bothers me not a whit.

  160. Pingback: Review: “Karen Memory” by Elizabeth Bear | Relentless Reading (And Writing About It!)

  161. Pingback: Lightning Round – 2015/02/10 | Free Northerner

  162. Pingback: Check your Fandom Privilege | The New Otherwhere Gazette

  163. Pingback: SJWs Fail To Block Adam Baldwin From Attending Supanova

  164. Naw, dude, people left SF in droves because only little kids want to eat the same damn thing for breakfast every single day. And don’t cry, there’s plenty of sexist, racist stuff out there. The rest of us will be over in the actual future enjoying speculative fiction that’s actually interesting and smart.

    For the rest of you, it isn’t like ‘Enders Game’ is gonna go out of print anytime soon.

  165. Writers have always pushed political or social agendas, all the way back to the pulp era. Often it’s hard to recognize because it’s like trying to recognize dampness at the bottom of the ocean. But sometimes it’s hard to recognize because the author is clever. A lot of people read Frederik Pohl’s GATEWAY without realizing that it was a scathing satire of capitalism. He gets away with it because the book works on more than one level. A good author needs to be able walk and chew gum at the same time. The great ones walk and chew gum while they juggle a 5 ball shower pattern *without most readers noticing*.

    Tastes change in literary style, politics, and social acceptability. I love the old 30s pulp sci-fi even though it was artistically crude, scientifically ignorant, on socially unenlightened to a degree that goes way past offensive to laughable. And I know stuff exactly like that is still getting written today, it’s just not publishable. Any kind of story you can imagine is being written, but what gets published is what publishers have a high degree of confidence they can sell. So if the military sci-fi novel you bought is “tainted” with queer politics, it’s because such a book will sell enough to turn a modest profit.

    The value of an investment is determined by two factors: expected return AND risk. Presumably an acquisitions editor knows very well that an LGBT-themed military sci-fi story is never going to be a hit like STARSHIP TROOPERS or CHILDE CYCLE. But if he knows the market well enough he may well be very confident he’ll turn a modest profit based on a small but identifiable segment of the audience for sci-fi that really wants to read and share such a book. We’re in the great age of medium-casting (as opposed to broad- or narrow-).

    It’s not such a terrible thing. It does you no actual harm that there are so many books out there that don’t appeal to you specifically. The market is addressing people who were marginalized before. That puts the stock of of the young, straight, white male hero at an all time low, but it’s far from zero. People are still writing about Harry Potters.

  166. Pingback: Puppies in Stasis | Simon McNeil

  167. So, would it be trollish to point out that the print market for Science Fiction has been contracting over the past few years, even as independently published space opera sales have skyrocketed? Maybe the acquisition editors might not have their pulse on the market after all. The success of Scalzi, Correia, Howley, and Weir prior to their publication by their publishers certainly says that some of our best talent is coming from outside the established fandom and outside the established legacy publishers.

    And, to charges of marginalization: a sizable portion of Sad Puppies nominess are Human Wave writers. Let’s check out their manifesto here:

    http://accordingtohoyt.com/2012/03/21/what-is-human-wave-science-fiction-3/

    “You can write male heros. You can write female heros. You can write alien heros. You can write human heros. You can write western heros. You can write non-western heros. You can write squirrel-heros (but you have to know you’re weird.) You can write it in a boat, you can write it with a goat (but which end do you hold on the paper?) You can write it in a moat (but it will probably drip) and you can write it on a stoat.

    “1 – Your writing should be entertaining. If you’re writing for the awards and the literary recognition, you’re hanging out with the wrong crowd. (Does the other crowd have a tiny racoon in a kilt? Or even a quilt? Think!)

    “2 – Your writing shouldn’t leave anyone feeling like they should scrub with pumice or commit suicide by swallowing stoats for the crime of being human, or like humans are a blight upon the Earth, or that the future is dark, dreary, evil and fraught with nastiness, because that’s all humans can do, and woe is us.

    “3 – Your writing should not leave anyone feeling ashamed of being: male, female, western, non-western, sickly, hale, powerful, powerless. It should use characters as characters and not as broad groups that are then used to shame other groups. Fiction is not agit prop.

    “4- Your writing shouldn’t be all about the message. You can, of course, have a message. But the message should not be the be-all end-all of the novel. If it is, perhaps you should be writing pamphlets.

    “5 – You shall not commit grey goo. Grey goo, in which characters of indeterminate moral status move in a landscape of indeterminate importance towards goals that will leave no one better or worse off is not entertaining. (Unless it is to see how the book bounces off the far wall, and that has limited entertainment. Also, I’m not flinging my kindle.)”

    Nothing there about wanting straight white young men as heroes. That seems to be bigotry you brought to the picture yourself. In fact, the author, Sarah Hoyt, wrote a book for Baen that featured a gay romance in her SF revolution story. Perhaps you would be better served by asking us what we think instead of telling us what you think we think.

  168. Pingback: Master List of Unlikeable Things About Sad Puppies | Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens

  169. Pingback: Bookmarks for April 4th through April 6th : Extenuating Circumstances

  170. Pingback: Fifty is the New Cranky

  171. Pingback: Let’s Get Dangerous: Talking About Talking About the 2015 Hugo Nominations. And I Didn’t Stutter. | Welltun Cares Presents

  172. Pingback: George R.R. Martin and Others Speak Out Over Hugo Awards Controversy | 6News

  173. Science Fiction is at it’s best when it’s about ideas. This is what made science fiction unique back in the day. To say that people shouldn’t write science fiction that explores their ideas, is to argue for science fiction without so much science fiction in it.

    The answer is not to tell people that they’re writing their books wrong, but to write your own stories right.

    Your prescription that a book with a spaceship on the cover should present the spaceship in the old fashioned heroic sci-fi light is to say all Science Fiction should be frozen in about 1950 with Clarke, Heinlein and Asimov writing space adventures – that’s the death of science fiction right there.

    The nutty nuggets – the brand name we like, the experience we enjoy – that comes from the author. Select Authors who’s dishes please you.

    To say other cooks can’t use the kitchen because their dishes don’t please you is precisely, I mean PRECISELY, like calculating a ballistic course to mars precisely wrong headed.

    I could almost see the idea that subverting western culture and heroic stereotypes is hackneyed, worn out and unimaginative, but to hollow out science fiction into a rigid set of heroic stories of daring do is a cure worse than the disease itself.

    Don’t whine about other people’s dishes. Offer a more attractive product.

  174. I think, interestingly enough, that advances in technology are changing Science Fiction the same way they’re changing all creative media, by allowing the audience to find precisely the nutty nuggets they like and leave the nutty bites or nutty bars they don’t like alone.

    That means there’s an audience for retro-sci-fi, and a market for post-modern sci-fi. And a market for new stuff.

    I think it may well be that science fiction as a unified genre is going to split apart and atomize.

    If it’s okay for music, why not fiction?

  175. Pingback: Some thoughts on the Hugo Awards and Puppies who are Sad | it's all narrative

  176. “Do you see what I am trying to say here?”

    I do. “WAAHHH! YOU GOT WOMEN AND GAYS IN MY STORIES AND I’M A WHINY PISSBABY.”

    Is that about right?

  177. Pingback: The Sad Puppies are goddamned idiots - Atheist Boutique

  178. Ultimately, I don’t believe this holds water. For reasons I’m sure others have said, but it bears repeating.

    Firstly, if we are to take your analogies as correct, and to a certain degree they may be, you are identifying a market. A market in which someone may make money. Maybe at the moment nobody is making your nutty nuggets, but if more than a few people want them back, they’ll come back. Or something close enough to them. Ultimately this world is not controlled by political correctness: it is controlled by money. Identify a profit margin and trust me: it will be filled. Because who’s going to NOT make money?

    Secondly, what about all those people who didn’t like nutty nuggets back when you were having the time of your life with them and they were all there was? Now that nutty nuggets have changed, there are, presumably, people buying nutty nuggets because they like them better now. What are those people supposed to do? Oh sure, you say there’s room enough for both brands of nutty nuggets. But as recent events have borne out, this really seems to be about what is currently defined as nutty nuggets, and that if this new version is defined as such, then the old must be as well. That there was a time where only the old version held sway and if you didn’t like it, too bad… well what of it? Fair must be fair, but we must never regulate lovers of old nuggy nuggets to what the lovers of the new endured in times gone by. To everything there is a season turn, turn, turn… oh wait. You meant what I like goes out of season? Oh, no: NOT happening.

    Because, let’s be clear: this entire premise is what you, and certain others define as nuggy nuggets. You have defined this is what this is, that is what that is, and this is not that. We are ‘us’ and they are ‘them’. At this stage, there’s nothing against them…perfectly nice people. But they’re not US.

  179. James May:

    Some of last year’s Hugo Award winners and nominees use newly minted racial slurs coined just for me like “white cis-dude” or just old fashioned ones like “old white men.”

    Bwahahahahahahahahaha!
    You think white cis-dude is a racial slur? It’s not. It’s not an insult. It’s shorthand for someone who is white, cisgender, and male. That’s it. There is not one component of that that is an insult. As a black, cisgender male, I laugh at your ridiculous attempt to play the “they’re being mean to me” card.

  180. Nilan:

    Firstly, if we are to take your analogies as correct, and to a certain degree they may be, you are identifying a market. A market in which someone may make money. Maybe at the moment nobody is making your nutty nuggets, but if more than a few people want them back, they’ll come back. Or something close enough to them.

    Of course people are still making Nutty Nuggets, so I’m not sure why Brad is whining. Oh wait, yes I do. It’s because people are daring to write other kinds of SF/F that doesn’t fit his preferences.

  181. Tony,

    Yeah, but then I remembered how nobody seems to make those adventure games anymore I used to like, so I thought I’d give the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes in certain situations, there actually are gaps in the market.

    Here though? Well, ah… no.

  182. Tony, were you born stupid or did you go to special schools? Or just trolling, because you couldn’ buy a clue with Bill Gates’ entire fortune.

  183. Back in the bad old days (pre ‘diversity’, where the quality of the story was actually fairly important) Analog magazine was bouncing along at about 180-200k copies published per month.

    But in these enlightened days, where one’s political viewpoint and adherence to the proper ideas as stated by the ‘tastemakers’ in the genre is key to acceptance by the publisher, Analog’s publishing about 25-30k copies a month.

    (sarc)

    This is actually much better – because they’re appealing to a much more eclectic audience now. You don’t want EVERYONE to be reading it, do you? And let’s be honest – some people simply shouldn’t be allowed to set eyes on SF, much less write it. They’re not ‘our sort’, are they? They don’t understand just how crass they are for even making the attempt.

    (/sarc)

    If the fiction’s good, if the story’s engaging and the plot satisfying, the characters intriguing – I don’t care whether the author has scales or feathers or what they put where and with whom. It’s simply not relevant.

    And that a lot of people have lost sight of that in their rush for ‘diversity’ is a really bad sign – as is their urge to cut out all who don’t sign on to their narrow definitions of the ‘right kind’ of authors.

    In the end, though, I’ve got to thank the Sad Puppies. I haven’t been to a con since the ’86 Worldcon, for varying reasons, but I’ve bought a supporting membership this year because of the sheer hatred and self-congratulatory intolerance that I’ve seen from the supposedly ‘inclusive’ ‘diversity-supporting’ side of fandom. The Hugos aren’t an award given by the self-styled elite of Worldcon – it’s an award given by fans who decide to vote for what they want and what they like. I’d forgotten that supporting memberships could vote – it’s been a long time since I’ve been to a Con, and look forward to getting and reviewing the material.

    If they want the Hugos to mean anything to fandom at large, other than it being an award that’s passed around a tiny, exclusive group of like-minded people, SF needs to broaden its reach, not exclude wide swaths of fandom.

    That’s done through supporting good writing, good editing, good plotting, and good characterizations… then letting fandom decide what’s good.

    And they may just decide that ‘diversity’ isn’t a substitute for a good story.

    After all, that’s what they’re paying for – isn’t it?

  184. That Analog once printed 180k-200k copes has more to do with the fact that in the 40s Hollywood was making much more money, as a percentage, than it does now: because there was, comparatively little entertainment competition. If you wanted science fiction, you didn’t have huge libraries of tv shows, movies and books at your fingertips or even walking distance. Cripes, even in the mid-80s you couldn’t watch Star Wars anytime you liked because they hadn’t agreed to release it onto VHS yet! You had to wait for it to come on tv. Which happened something like once a year.

    As for diversity not being a substitute for a good story, of course it’s not. Which is precisely why I don’t understand this. If something is not a good story, if people don’t respond to it — it’s not going to succeed. There IS NO Diana-Moon-Glampers handicapper general, because nobody’s paying her salary. They’re paying for stories they want to hear. If people wanted different stories, they’d pay for those ones.

    If people move away from Sci-Fi because they don’t read stories like the ones they used to, well that’s nonsense, because nothing has changed the stories they used to like. Just find something you want to buy. If it’s not there, EVEN BETTER: write one, because you’re potentially sitting on serious cash flow opportunity. If establishment people turn away from you because of ‘elitist’ attitudes, better still: more money for you. Because if you’re making that money the ‘elistists’ will come to you and not the other way around.

    But of course this is all nonsense, and presupposes a very capitalist enterprise (entertainment ain’t health care, folks) in probably the most capitalist nation on earth isn’t capitalist, and can in fact afford not to be.

  185. That Analog once printed 180k-200k copes has more to do with the fact that in the 40s

    I saw those numbers in the 90’s, back when I first started selling. Back then, however, the “literati” types were constantly disparaging Analog using words like “trite” and “formula” and “lacking in character”. But Analog sold more than any of the other magazines. It sold more than Asimov’s, more than F&SF, more than Amazing. The only magazine of the day selling more was Omni which was backed by the Guccione empire (and Omni has since died while Analog is still with us).

    The claim is often made that competition from movies and TV is killing the written word. Yet we have phenomena like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and yes, even Twighlight, which demonstrate that people are perfectly willing to read, and buy in large numbers, the written word when it’s something they want to read.

    There is a lesson there.

  186. Competition hasn’t killed the written word — nothing will ever KILL it, it’s too adept and unique — but one must remember that the old sales numbers were at a time when it was closer to the only entertainment game in town (which even in Analog’s heyday it wasn’t, but it didn’t have to compete nearly as much). For some people out there years ago, it literally was a choice of buying a magazine or playing marbles. Which might sound horrible to people today until you appreciate the one can entertain themselves rather than have another medium — any medium — do it for you. Plus marbles can be fun.

    As an example, just because TV came along in the 50s didn’t mean Hollywood was done with making money. Even a comparative amount of money on a given picture as they did in the 30s-40s. You still had the Star Wars Box Office 25 or so years after the dawn of television. You still had the Titanic Box Office another 20 or so after that: sure, even these, when you look at the numbers didn’t quite make as much as Gone With The Wind, but for my purposes it’s good enough: let’s say they did.

    But what the average film was making in ’77 and ’97 compared to back then? Ooooh, different story there. With more competition, there was less room for unproved content (as in, unproven in sales) in the older medium. Hence less money for films. Hence, less studios. You could make the same analogy in a smaller time with the music industry.

  187. “If people move away from Sci-Fi because they don’t read stories like the ones they used to, well that’s nonsense, because nothing has changed the stories they used to like. Just find something you want to buy. If it’s not there, EVEN BETTER: write one, because you’re potentially sitting on serious cash flow opportunity. If establishment people turn away from you because of ‘elitist’ attitudes, better still: more money for you. Because if you’re making that money the ‘elistists’ will come to you and not the other way around.”

    Oh, there’s plenty I want to buy, and plenty I read – but it looks like the Hugos have become a serious negative indicator instead of a positive one. And as far as writing goes – heh. I’ve self-published a few things. I think my favorite one is this… http://www.amazon.com/Worlds-Wonder-August-Semi-Pulp-Magazine-ebook/dp/B00LTI1TGG

    Started with a bunch of titles (except for ‘The Squirrels Of D-Day’ – that was sparked by an idea that Sarah Hoyt mentioned) and came up with stories for them. Ended up quite a variety – hard space opera (DIY – or how to humano-form a planet that wouldn’t even normally be considered for colonization, and ‘Wind’ – humanity’s attempt to establish a floating station in the atmosphere of Jupiter), SF – (Suicide Watch – about a monomaniacal babysitting robot, and ‘Best Day EVER at Heaven’s Gate’… an amusement park that… well… hmmm….) a western and a short piece of fantasy. Plus ‘Letters to the Editor’ and an editorial. Seeing I was trying to replicate something from the period, the editor would be seen as rabidly progressive for the times.

    The cover… urg. Needed to figure out how to use GIMP for that, then try to replicate the pulp SF covers of the ’50s. I’m not a graphic artist by any means, but I think it came off pretty well.

    In the end, SF should be is about fun. And that’s what it was.

  188. The brute truth of it is that the audience for trans-gay slipstream steampunk postmodernist anti-capitalist critique theory (masked as story) is limited. Whereas spaceships, laser blasters, with hot women and hunky dudes, having interstellar adventures, has a much broader audience. Markets interested in survival, tend to at least try to appeal to the latter. Markets interested in becoming subsidized college literary productions, are mad that the world doesn’t fall all over itself for the former; and wonders why it can’t sell big.

    Ask yourselves: do you want more of Star Wars – Episode V or do you want The Crying Game with flying cars?

  189. “Ask yourselves: do you want more of Star Wars – Episode V or do you want The Crying Game with flying cars?”

    For the SJWs, it’s about which the vast majority would enjoy less, so they can endorse it and preen mightily about how they’re morally ‘better’ because they don’t enjoy that populist trash.

  190. Brad, you say:

    “People got into SF/F in large numbers because of the adventure, the gosh-wow-gee-wiz worldbuilding, the broad-chested heroes and buxom heroines, the laser blasters, the starships zooming at warp speed to save the day, etc. Our genre still preserves a patina of swashbuckling, but it’s usually only that: a facade. Nowadays you’re liable to be served up a lecture on Womens Studies, versus getting taken for a ride with the Gray Lensman, or Captain Kirk for that matter.”

    Just because it might have started off that way in the United States, it does not mean it’s how it should always be. I actually love SF that explores complex themes in ways that make critical use of the SF element.

    So I feel that your line of argument, about what people originally got from SF in the USA, takes away from the main (correct) point: US leftist propaganda is infecting the entire Western culture. Even those of us who live in Eastern Europe, under threat of war with Russia, get constantly spoon-fed the First World Problems of PC drones and professional crybabies.

    They are not content to just saying their peace. They want to monopolize everything. And they believe anyone who does not subscribe with their views is on the “wrong side of history”.

    They took this story about the Hugos and spun into a narrative about how privileged white males are trying to divert away credit from successful POC, womyn and minority authors.

    And THIS is what is wrong with Cultural Marxism.

  191. Pingback: And the Hugo Award for Igcredulity Goes To… | The City of Memory

  192. Pingback: Schoolyard Logic: Sad Puppies and Hugos | Serial Distractions

  193. You speak as if Nutty Nuggets were the only cereal in existence. There are myriad brands and flavors. You also speak as if your favorite flavor was eliminated. From what I can see there’s still plenty of swashbuckling space opera of the kind you enjoy (in fact, you just engineered the nomination of an entire slate of it for Hugos, yes?).

    Oddly enough though, you seem to be defining all of science fiction by your own terms, that if it’s not swashbuckling space opera with manly men and damsels in distress and mustache-twirling villains then it’s not really science fiction. What a load of peanut butter.

    Science fiction is not just one thing. The Nutty Nuggets definition doesn’t seem to leave a lot of room, if any, for new and dangerous visions.

    It also reminds me of a Sturgeon quote (at least I think it’s from him, excerpted from an introduction in the Clarion III anthology): “Therefore to preclude any kind of science fiction which did not conform to someone’s sacred 1936 or 1952 concept of science fiction would be to preserve the field by embalming it. That’s what you do with dead things.”

  194. “After all, who are you going to believe, Nilan or your lying eyes???”

    Nilan, your last line presupposes that the publishing industry and those who work in it are capitalists. Got news for you: they’ve said publicly on multiple occasions that they aren’t all about profit, that profit is in fact a dirty word, and that they’d rather be PC than rich. And their actions PROVE IT.

  195. There’s one claim you make, which strikes me as the key point of friction: “People got into SF/F in large numbers because of the adventure, the gosh-wow-gee-wiz worldbuilding, the broad-chested heroes and buxom heroines, the laser blasters, the starships zooming at warp speed to save the day, etc. ”

    So here’s my $.02 on “the adventure, the gosh-wow-gee-wiz worldbuilding, the broad-chested heroes and buxom heroines”…

    I like adventure. I do not *require* it, and there are excellent SFF stories which are not about adventure. Heinlein’s “They”, for example, has, as its peak action, *whether it’s raining*. There’s a Zelazny story, “The Engine at Heartspring’s Center,” about a cyborg, *retired* from adventure, and the story is basically chick lit about a cyborg. For Heinlein and Zelazny, adventure was an *element*, which they used in some stories more than others.

    Same goes for gosh-wow-gee-wiz worldbuilding. It is part of some New Wave stories, and not of others. When it’s done well, I love it. For example, it’s done excellently in “Left Hand of Darkness”, which is also a book about gender. “Left Hand” is not an outraged polemic about gender as such; it’s more of an outraged polemic about totalitarianism and monarchy. The character who gets killed by the Minions of Evil fits the gender norms of their society (as the Earth-human in the story does not), and dies because they’re too honorable to toe the party line. (And yes, I’m referring to Therem Harth rem ir Estraven as “they”, because neither “he” nor “she” accurately matches that character.) Hm, polemics against totalitarianism, as part of science fiction. Sound familiar? Oh, wait, you said that science fiction was getting too political; so apparently you want “Left Hand of Darkness” taken off the SFF shelf, because the Great Commensality of Orgoreyn is a thinly-veiled allegory for the USSR and the PRC, much like a certain recent parody about the People’s Republic of Science Fiction.

    Any story which has articulate values, necessarily has political implications. That includes John Carter becoming “Warlord” of Mars. My tastes include (and are not limited to) some VERY openly, explicitly political science fiction. “Starship Troopers”, for example. “Troopers” includes some action scenes which scratch my power-fantasy itch, though many of the soldiers in that gee-whiz powered armor come back to their families in coffins. “Troopers” also featres scenes which in which a political theorist *lectures a classroom*, as directly on-message as the dialogues featuring Socrates. Lieutenant Colonel Jean V. Dubois says this: “The Magna Carta was ratified at the battle of Runnymede.” (I happen to agree.) If you want politics removed from Science Fiction, that’s going to cost you – and me, and us all – “Starship Troopers”.

    No way is anything you could accomplish at Worldcon possibly worth the cost of taking “Starship Troopers” off the shelf, to make room for purer boxes of Nutty Nuggets.

    “the broad-chested heroes and buxom heroines”
    And here we are, at the most volatile part of the dispute.

    Look, if you wanna write those stories and read them, go wild. Edgar Rice Burrows isn’t cranking out any more books, but you can fanfic him all day long, and throw in the “Heavy Metal” movie and some Gor for good measure, then mix in “Twilight” as a modern update. Heinlein’s “Glory Road” is a fine story; I won’t call it great, it’s not in the same echelon as “Moon is a Harsh Mistress”, but it delighted me as teen and it still amuses me today, and I imagine that it’s still inspiring some new writers.

    Poul Anderson wrote some fine heroes who were broad-chested, and some fine heroes who were not; their value lay in their honor, not in their pecs or abs. So, ya know, you could focus on the broad-chested part of his work, if that’s the part you value. I’ll stick with the focus on honor. And as long as you can create and enjoy your preferred flavor of Nutty Nuggets, and I can enjoy mine, then you and I can co-exist within science fiction.

    Your essay, however, calls for ALL the books on the “Nutty Nuggets” section of the bookstore to include generous nuggets on the chest of the heroine. If I infer correctly, the heroine is a sexual reward for the daring exploits of the muscular hero; not so? Many fans *thought* that Princess Leia would be a sexual reward for Luke Skywalker, after he daringly rescued the beautiful princess from the foes who were about to execute her. (Though, alas, Tarkin wasn’t planning to ritually sacrifice Leia on a blood-stained stone altar to the Dark Side.) But whoah, the narrative twists into another direction! At the end of “Return of the Jedi”, Skywalker’s apparently still an un-sexually-rewarded virgin! Is the Star Wars trilogy a false imitation of Nutty Nuggets, displacing “real” SFF?

    If you want Clarke’s “2001” declared “Not a Real Nutty Nugget Book”, if the spaceship on the cover of 2001 is False Advertising because there are neither muscular nor mammary-endowed chests in that story, then to hell with you. Harry Potter is not broad-chested. He’s a wimp who casts magic by *swishing his wrists* (while holding a wand). His female ally – who is NOT also his sexual reward – is played on screen by a gorgeous actress; but the books don’t define her as pretty, and certainly not as curvy. Harry Potter is willing to die for freedom and justice. She stands with him, and figures out the puzzles he can’t solve. That makes them my kind of hero and heroine. So if you want the Harry Potter books marked as “False Advertising – Not Real Fantasy”, then to hell with you.

    The Potter books are deeply political. They’re as thinly-veiled an argument against racism as I’ve ever seen. A wizard marrying a muggle? What would Voldemort say? You know what he would say, Mr. Torgersen, because it’s also been said about your own marriage, it’s said whenever love trumps the categories of Us and Them. So if you don’t want anti-racist politics in SF&F, then that’s gonna cost us the Harry Potter books. It’s also gonna cost us the movie “Enemy Mine.” Oh, and if you’re OK with anti-racist politics, but you oppose trans-binary gender politics: that opposition will ALSO cost us “Enemy Mine”. And of course it will cost “Left Hand of Darkness”. It will cost us most of Lois Bujold’s work… well, all of her work, really, because if “Ethan of Athos” had not been well-precedented and welcome in SFF, then I don’t imagine she would have stayed in our genre; she’d have gone elsewhere and written more Sherlock Holmes stories, so that she can put a gun in the hand of a female character now and then (“Lady On the Embankment”).

    If you want science fiction to be *all* Burroughs and *no* Le Guin, and perhaps half of Anderson and Heinlein and Zelazny, and maybe 10% of Larry Niven, then to hell with you.

    Getting Le Guin off the “Nutty Nuggets” shelf, by the way, also costs us “Rocannon’s World”, with its sword-wielding lords on flying steeds. To hell with you.

    If you oppose the way Bujold pokes fun at patriarchy and heteronormativity, then to hell with you. I’m not saying you have to like her work, or consider it worthy of a Hugo; but when you denounce it as Not a Real Nutty Nugget, then to hell with you.

    Since I cannot send you directly to Hell, I’m plunking down my $40 for the sake of opposing you, and I’m voting the “Kick the Puppies” slate. I might read some of the stories, might enjoy them, might form opinions about which of them are well-written; I’m already confident that “Guardians of the Galaxy” was among the best SFF of 2014; but you and your Puppies have advanced the precedent of voting a slate, for the sake of the slate, trusting the decisions of whoever promoted the slate.

    If the purification of SFF into 100% “Real Nutty Nuggets”, starting with the elimination of Le Guin, Bujold, and the Potter stories.. if that is *not* what you meant, Mr. Torgersen, when you wrote the Nutty Nuggets essay… then you’ve got some explaining to do, because that essay is currently the public face of the Sad Puppy slate.

    Well, okay, there’s also the allegations that the Puppies are themselves racists, sexists, colonialists and so forth. That’s convenient for idiots who need a two-tone morality. Twas ever thus. (There are also slavering two-tone-morality fans on your blog.) Setting aside those idiots: for the people who fast-forward past the unsubstantiated allegations, and read the words of the guy who’s spearheading the Sad Puppies 2015 project… those are your words, on the record, describing what you stand for and stand against. So when I say to hell with you, I mean Hell as described in Niven and Pournelle’s “Inferno”. You are free, if and when you choose, to do the work and earn your way out.

    I hope that if you, Corriera, Martin and Scalzi could meet directly, if the truth-over-truthiness people on both sides of the middle could talk, without the bloodthirsty masses screaming from behind them, then some useful reforms might emerge. (And then the Neilsen Haydens would cry foul, and they’d exile Martin and Scalzi from the ranks of trufans, and the four of you would start a new faction… oh, I wish, I wish.) But as it is, you and Corriera stand in the shadow of the Gamergaters who instigate police raids hoping for tragedy, and Scalzi and Martin stand in the shadow of the people who send pre-emptive hate-tweets to Jonathan Ross.

    Note this: extremists on the SJW side bullied Ross away from Worldcon. Anti-SJW extremists have tried to maneuver cops into accidentally shooting people. Latest example: January 3rd, this year, in Portland Oregon; it’s a matter of public record; see link below, to a “mainstream” media report. Are tweet-bullying and “swatting” equally (dis)honorable? If you don’t mind the possibility that a cop could have pulled the trigger on a Social Justice Warrior, then consider how that cop would feel, for the rest of his life, about having being used by Gamergate to lethally silence a feminist.

    Is that really the side you want to be on? I understand that *you* would never stoop so low, nor would Corriera. I’m not so sure about John Wright or Vox Day. No proper Burroughs hero would tolerate being on the same side as such people, and like it or not, *currently you are*.

    Verification: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2015/01/prank_call_sends_several_polic.html

    Oh, and for the record: http://www.fooducate.com/app#page=product&id=CBE2AD00-397D-11E1-AFF9-1231380C18FB

  196. Pingback: Sad Puppies Losing It | Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens

  197. TheMarySue.com article (supporting the social justice campaign destroying science fiction) that linked here also blocked me permanently for pointing out their emperor frolics naked and is apparently enjoying himself. The site is truly a rag. So I’ll post it here, where at least it won’t be deleted, and perhaps may even be understood:

    The Mary Sue people clearly swim in the shallow, fiction-only end of the science fiction pool. After all, white privilege must be corrected by spanking white males. When discussing the unlikely presence of white privilege in Bulgaria and Romanians, and before having it pointed out that in Britain, Bulgarians and Romanians are subject to open discrimination, one sciency-fictiony-thingy user replies:

    “I’ve not been to either country, but I would guess…” – Laurelinde, TheMarySue.com

    That’s some mighty fine feminist-grade science right there. You can add, “I didn’t grow up as white trash, but I know they have the same privilege as us corn-fed, educated, middle class white kids”.

    While science fiction did indeed deal with social issues, and casting for Star Trek was decidedly multi-ethnic and inclusive; heroes and villains were not rigidly coupled to a human race and gender. Today, you know before you see the cast that the black male and white female will be under the hero/victim/parent/moral category and the white male will be most likely a villain who ultimately dies, or a floundering leader who yields to change by the BM/WF superpeople. And you know that by the odds, the black female, if she exists, will spend most of her time off camera.

    But hey, why bother trying to state a case on TheMarySue.com? It’s a SJW haven where everyone’s orgasmic fantasy is to force their version of social justice on everyone, rather than live in a democracy? And yes, remember that the beef at TheMarySue, etc, is because people of a different opinion exercised normal democracy and won. whiny, sore losers. Talk about privilege and entitlement!

    If you can predict the nature of a character based solely on their race and gender, it means that yes, indeedy, the film has been taken over by our lovely sexist/racist social justice warriors, who somehow can’t find within themselves to see people evenly as human beings. Even Jon Stewart alluded to this after Obama’s win: so many movies had been made in the prior decade with a black president successfully handling some major opponent that he could do a full montage – and a prediction. Among the predictions was the fresh air and flowers that Obama would bring. Seriously.

  198. Pingback: So We Now Have Whiny White Men Upset Sci-Fi/ Fantasy Doesn’t Just Focus on White Men Anymore?? | Dimalique's Distillations

  199. Pingback: George R.R. Martin Talks Gamergate, Online Hate and Representation of Straight White Men | 6News

  200. Pingback: Winter isn’t coming: Hugo Awards’ own GamerGate is delaying A Song of Ice and Fire -RocketNews

  201. Pingback: The Hugos | Brian C. E. Buhl

  202. Pingback: Crisis on one Earth

  203. Pingback: Le Prix Hugo 2015 et les activistes conservateurs « Traqueur Stellaire

  204. Pingback: 2015 Hugo Awards: How the sad and rabid puppies took over the sci-fi nominations.

  205. Pingback: Sad Puppies Taking a Bite Out of the Hugo Awards – StdGod

  206. Pingback: In defence of a multiple universe theory of fandom

  207. I’m going to quote you on my own blog which is book reviews if I may, because you put perfectly how I’ve felt recently trying to find a good sci-fi book to read that wasn’t written sixty years ago. Unfortunately the object of my scorn is a Poul Anderson book called Harvest of Stars, and it was such a horrid let-down. Gorgeous cover involving space, horrible plot involving politics.

  208. Pingback: Harvest of Stars: by Poul Anderson | Book Reviews by Shiny Kitten Stickers

  209. Pingback: what in the depths… | Crime and the Blog of Evil

  210. There are some trends jumping onto the “social justice” bandwagon that I don’t like, and while I respect their right to criticize fiction however they want, I agree that their holier-than-thou hostility towards dissenting perspectives can be obnoxious. On the other hand, I get the feeling that the author’s problem has less to do with political themes in spec. fiction per se (which have ALWAYS existed) and more with certain writers taking on a preachy, unsubtle tone. And I don’t recall any generation of readers ever having kind words to say about preachy fiction no matter its slant.

    The truth of the matter is that any writer who puts their material out there for public consumption will attract critics and trolls no matter what they write. There’s nothing you can do to prevent that, since everything in existence will offend someone out there. What you CAN do is decide to ignore those criticisms if you conclude they’re unfounded or unfair. Freedom of speech does not protect you from criticism, but neither can it take away your right to dismiss unreasonable criticism.

  211. Pingback: Puppies! — My Two Cents | melindasnodgrass.com

  212. Brad, you want predictable fiction? Do you know what predictable is, that when you read the first paragraph you know what the last one is going to be. And since you ALREADY know what will happen, why waste precious hours of your life reading it? Predictable fiction is BORING. Predictable fiction wastes your time. You compare it with food, but with food you keep needing the same nutrients so you can eat it over and over. With brain food, once an idea is consumed and accepted, to keep absorbing it, with no variation is getting stuck, and to die of boredom.

    So be grateful that you are given the chance to learn new things, and see familiar things in a new light. Without that, brain cell die.

  213. Adriana: Predictable fiction IS boring, which is why I am delighted to see the Sad Puppies campaign. Because I could predict very readily what most books, especially award winning books would be like. Not even in general, quite specifically. With very few exceptions. I would be treated to a story that focused, usually, on someone either gay or female being persecuted for their beliefs. If I was very lucky I MIGHT have one character I actually liked, more often than not they would be caricatures rather than characters. If there was any hope in the book it would be ruthlessly squashed before the end of the book. 90% of the protagonists would be anti-heroes and as vile if not more vile than the person they were opposing. Anything that resembled good would be stupid and probably die. The Villain would have a pathetically tragic past that magically makes all the deplorable things they did alright and was usually caused by the character that you spend the majority of the book rooting for as the only redeeming feature of the thing… There would also be loosely connected rants that did not further the story. This is what they’re calling ‘variety’ and ‘making you think’. This is why I suffered almost 15 years of ‘readers block’. This is why I viewed the Hugo logo on recent books as a huge warning label. (I read Bujold in spite of the Hugo label not because of. She is the exception that proves the rule by her very contrast.) This is why I welcome the shake up that’s currently going on within the award itself. I want stories that actually sparkle rather than drone. I want stories that are genuinely multifaceted rather than ‘humans bad. There is no good. Hope is stupid. You will always be a victim because you’re female.’

  214. Pingback: An Idea, an Idea, My Kingdom for an Idea! | Brian K. Lowe

  215. Pingback: So, Let’s Talk About The Hugos: A Puppy Primer | Blue Author Is About To Write

  216. Pingback: The Problem With Taste Tribes | Ordinary Times

  217. Pingback: [Cultures de l’Imaginaire – Littérature] «Puppygate» : La polémique déchire écrivains et fans de science-fiction aux Etats-Unis | Jeunesse & Développement local, associatif et culturel

  218. Michael Moorcock’s works are textbook examples of the balance that “politically correct” science fiction has lost. Moorcock’s writings have plenty of subversive, countercultural themes and imagery, but his plots are never forced to submit to the “message” of the story.

  219. Pingback: Slates, the final frontier « Unqualified Offerings

  220. Pingback: Puppy’s Progress | Blue Author Is About To Write

  221. Pingback: “On A Spiritual Plain” by Lou Antonelli | Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens

  222. Pingback: Love and Romanpunk (2011) av Tansy Rayner Roberts | Drömmarnas berg -SF, Fantasy och Skräck

  223. This isn’t about book covers, as much as it’s about the field as a whole having a brand label struggle. People got into SF/F in large numbers because of the adventure, the gosh-wow-gee-wiz worldbuilding, the broad-chested heroes and buxom heroines, the laser blasters, the starships zooming at warp speed to save the day, etc. Our genre still preserves a patina of swashbuckling, but it’s usually only that: a facade. Nowadays you’re liable to be served up a lecture on Women’s Studies, versus getting taken for a ride with the Gray Lensman, or Captain Kirk for that matter. You can have “issues” in your SF/F but I fear the issues have overtaken the adventure. Or at least this is the complaint I’ve been seeing and hearing from a lot of readers. People who freely admit to being avid SF/F readers until . . . they just kind of drifted off. The contents of the “package” stopped interesting them. Or actively repulsed them.

    You could simply also say, ‘Emoprogressives have hijacked science fiction.’

  224. Pingback: Friends with Enemies | Brian K. Lowe

  225. Pingback: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Puppy 5/12 | File 770

  226. Pingback: Unfisk / refisk / fisk² | Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens

  227. Pingback: Canterbury Tails 5/27 | File 770

  228. Pingback: The Puppies come so close to getting it, so often. | Blue Author Is About To Write

  229. Pingback: Blank Slate - Invizable Ink

  230. Pingback: on “Puppygate” and challenging our default assumptions | SHANNON ROHANE

  231. Pingback: Puppies in Their Own Words

  232. Pingback: Hugos, or Sturgeon’s Law for Society | Eddie West

  233. Pingback: The Tor Mess

  234. Pingback: Science Fiction And Its Growing Pains | Cowboy Errant

Comments are closed.