I don’t usually take to fisking the comments of others in the field, but the recent words of Teresa Nielsen-Hayden simply demand it. Since my inception as a professional, I have made the case for an “open” system. No barriers. Not on writers, and not on fans. Publish, connect with your audience (for fun and profit!) and for God’s sake, no more gatekeeping of the “ghetto” that is the literary Science Fiction and Fantasy field. Writers are writers are writers, and fans are fans are fans. My reasoning along these lines is not original to me. Others were saying similar things ten-plus years ago. But now it’s gotten to the point that certain would-be gatekeepers have become so thoroughly convinced of their station — and so absolutely sure of your unworthiness to partake — that it’s time to stand up.
Sad Puppies 3 terrifies CHORF queen (and former TOR editor) Teresa Nielsen-Hayden because she knows that TruFans (the dyed-in-the-wool, insular, legacy group of fans who cluster about World Science Fiction Convention) are a dying breed. She knows that if enough glare is placed on the award (the Hugos) and enough “outside” fans (you and me and the rest of the universe) come to claim our place, then TruFans are done. Their relevance will be at an end. They had a good run, got big heads, decided they could begin trashing whomever they felt like, and now the mask is being cast off — at the end, when TruFans are imperiled by the harsh light of reality.
TNH: I should have been clearer. Those of us who love SF and love fandom know in our hearts that the Hugo is ours. One of the most upsetting things about the Sad Puppy campaigns is that they’re saying the Hugo shouldn’t belong to all of us, it should just belong to them.
This is a very Kafka-esq example of narrative-spinning. Sad Puppies 3 has always been about bringing new people to the Hugo process; from the very start. We never said the Hugo was ours, nor did we claim it should be ours. We claimed it belonged to no single person, nor any special group. It was (and is) the award of the field. Of all Science Fiction & Fantasy. It’s not Teresa’s personal property. It is not the property of the TruFans. Nor the CHORFs. Teresa is not even playing for the undecideds at this point, because this is pure dog-whistling for the other TruFen; the people who’ve convinced themselves that they (and they alone) are the only ones who can appreciate, love, or enjoy, SF/F. Teresa is telling a fairy tale for the morale of TruFans, because Teresa knows the cause is lost. The flame of the TruFen is dying. No more gatekeepers. No more CHORFs. No more big fish in small fishbowls. No more taste-making.
TNH: When I say the Hugos belong to the worldcon, I’m talking about the literal legal status of the award. But I also know that one of the biggest reasons the rocket is magic is because it spiritually belongs to all of us who love SF.
You hear that, fans? We don’t count. The Hugo is Teresa’s personal prize. Hers, and that of the other TruFen and CHORFs. Nobody who voted for or supports Sad Puppies 3 loves SF. Teresa herself — the queen CHORF — has declared it. Nobody who hasn’t been properly inculcated into fandom to Teresa’s satisfaction will ever be allowed to love SF/F the way Teresa and her fellow TruFen love it. All you Dragoncon fans? You don’t count. All you Comic Con fans? You don’t count either. In fact, nobody who ever fell in love with SF/F beyond the borders of Teresa’s fiefdom (at Worldcon) gets to love SF/F like she and the TruFen love it.
There’s a few words for that kind of attitude. One of them is delusional. The other is snobbish. And those are the polite words. I am sure you can think of others, perhaps more apt than I’ve used. Again, Teresa is dog-whistling to the faithful — as the ship slowly sinks beneath their feet, they move the chairs and tables aside for one last glorious dance on the aft deck.
TNH: I’ve been thinking about the aspects of the Sad Puppy campaigns that bother me most. So far there are three. First, there’s the Best Related Work category. That’s where the reference works wind up. Good reference books are labors of love, especially that last 10% of quality that takes 50% of the total labor. People who create reference books get one shot at the Hugo.
Yes, Teresa, that’s clearly why Chicks Dig Time Lords beat The Resnick & Malzberg Dialogues for Best Related Work. Because TruFans are so obviously devoted to scholarly, serious discussion and inspection of the field.
TNH: Second, the nominees on the Sad Puppy slate who got onto the ballot. Indications are that a fair number of them, maybe a majority, are respectable members of the SF community who, for one reason or another, are approved of by the SPs while not being ideologically Sad Puppies themselves. This means they’ve dreamed of winning the Hugo, just like all our other writers and artists and editors. They might not have had any real expectation of winding up on the ballot this year, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t wish for it with all the pure luminous desire of Ralphie wishing for a Red Ryder BB gun. They’ve been put in a horrible position. I mean, I’ve wanted a Hugo since I was in middle school, but I dreamed of being given one by SF community, not Larry Correia.
Teresa has no clue whatsoever how completely tired of the TruFan attitude many of my colleagues are. Some of them had given up long ago of ever being close to a Hugo. Not because they didn’t merit inclusion on a final ballot. But because the attitudes, biases, and blind spots of TruFans and CHORFs had become so predictable and shopworn, what point was there in hoping? We didn’t have to do much coaxing to get people onboard for Sad Puppies 3. Our policy was plain: we want good works from good authors regardless of ideology, and who’d be predictably passed over. Either because they’d been unfairly and endlessly passed over before (again: predictable biases) or because they were still new enough to be relatively buried in the “white noise” that comes with being new. Every person (and every work) on our slate, is a work that is deserving. In many instances, we feel these men and women are far, far, far overdue for recognition — when it comes to the field’s so-called “most prestigious award.” We also knew that Teresa and other TruFan CHORFs would have a come-apart — that anyone would dare tamper with the blessed status quo. Despite the fact a small mountain of writers, artists, and editors all hate and detest the status quo.
TNH: I think at least two of those nominees turned down the nomination. I hope they someday get a real one.
Because Teresa is used to the behind-the-scenes (and rather Machiavellian) nature of CHORF politics, I am sure it’s shocking for her to see us doing honestly and openly, what’s been done by CHORFs and TruFans for years. But notice how she’s already teed up the asterisk: assuming anyone on Sad Puppies 3 is a Hugo final ballot nominee — to say nothing of a winner — Teresa and the CHORFs and TruFans will stamp (in their minds) an asterisk next to the name of that work, or that author. One also guesses they will waste no opportunity to use the internet, and other resources, to decry and de-legitimize the winners. The TruFen and CHORFs don’t care if the potential nominee or winner actually deserves to get the nomination or the win. The nomination or the win were not vetted and approved by Teresa, TruFen, and CHORFs. So they will hiss and boo good men and women (who tell good stories!) for the sake of their tattered, soiled, smelly CHORF cred; as taste-makers.
And these are the people who praise themselves for being “inclusive.” Are you convinced yet? No, I am not either.
TNH: Third, the ballot itself. This grows out of wondering why so many Sad Puppies are suddenly out and about on forums they don’t normally frequent, belatedly spreading this new and not very believable line about how the whole Sad Puppy thing is motivated by love, rather than spite and resentment. They sure haven’t felt the need to spread this line before now. Neither have they put a lot of effort into hiding the spite and resentment.
Don’t look now, Teresa, but is your whole song and dance about, “We didn’t approve this, we didn’t approve you, we don’t approve, we don’t approve, we don’t approve,” winning you any hearts and minds beyond CHORFville?
Consider something Teresa moaned about earlier:
#499 Teresa Nielsen Hayden – March 29, 2015, 03:43 PM: Why are people talking about what would happen if everyone who reads SF voted in the Hugos? IMO, it’s not a relevant question. The Hugos don’t belong to the set of all people who read the genre; they belong to the worldcon, and the people who attend and/or support it. The set of all people who read SF can start their own award.
Again, the message is plain: get out of our sand box, you other kids from somewhere else. This is our toy, our sand box, our rules, and you don’t get to have it. You don’t count. You don’t matter. Go find your own sand box and your own toy. We don’t like you anyway, and we never did.
Yup. Inclusive. With a tazer gun.
TNH: If the SPs got all or most of their slate onto the ballot, and those people had their nominations confirmed by the Hugo administrators, and they were comparing notes behind the scenes, they’d be uniquely able to reconstruct most or all of the final ballot. So. I think they’ve succeeded in f*cking up the ballot beyond all expectation, and they know the SF community is going to explode when we see it. Look at Brad Torgersen’s first comment in this thread. I couldn’t figure out what he was on about when he first posted it. Now I think it’s one big steaming pile of special pleading from start to finish, all of it intended to deflect fannish wrath when the ballot’s announced.
Again, here we have the admission that Teresa and the other TruFans know they are standing on the aft deck of a sinking ship. She’s a CHORF. A TruFan. You bet your bottom dollar she and her husband have been comparing behind-the-scenes notes with anyone and everyone willing to share them. That’s what CHORFs do: operate behind the scenes. The above paragraph tells me Teresa is distraught, because what she’s hearing from her friends and her cohort is not good news. Not for the TruFan mentality, which believes that only TruFans (aka: Teresa Nielsen-Hayden clones) are worthy enough to be “real” Science Fiction & Fantasy fans. The cage has been badly rattled. Perhaps even broken? Yellow alert! Yellow alert! The CHORFs are losing control of their own award! It’s the CHORFpocalypse!
Or, maybe, it’s the inevitable dividend of too many years of too many fans and authors alike, getting short shrift. Of watching the field’s “most prestigious award” get stuck in a rut from which it seemingly might not ever recover. Because the real world of “big” SF/F had drifted so far from the “little” world of CHORFdom and TruFen, that nobody in the big world gave a damn about the Hugos anymore, thus the little world got to have the award (and by extension: the field) all to itself. “Normal” fans could get lost. Take a hike. Inclusivity was only a patina, for its own sake. The TruFen were going to keep their “in” crowd and their “in” award, and everyone else didn’t matter.
Well, guess what, Teresa. We matter.
We. Matter. In fact, we have always mattered. Everyone who ever came to love and cherish SF/F in ways not vetted and approved by you, by TruFans, or by CHORFs.
And we’re not going away. Not this year. Not next year. Not the year after that.
We’re not here to destroy the field, nor the Hugos.
We’re here to keep you from greedily clutching the award to your chest, while the field sinks beneath the waves.
AFTERNOON EDIT: after much cogent discussion on Facebook, and in the comments, there seems to be substantial logical evidence for changing the acronym SMOF to something else; since some people use the acronym in the positive sense, versus the negative sense. And this piece is not aimed at people who simply work hard to make conventions happen. I know many people who throw a lot of work into local cons here in Utah, and though they’ve never used SMOF (that I am aware of) I don’t want to paint with a brush that’s broader than necessary. So, I would like to birth a brand new acronym into the lexicon of the field. CHORF: Cliquish Holier-than-thou Obnoxious Reactionary Fanatic. Yes, I think that fits the bill nicely. As opposed to the SMOF, who may simply be toiling with diligence, a CHORF is somebody who’s all about fan politics, being a decider of who is and is not a fan, who gets to dominate the fan cliques, who is and is not a taste-maker, and so forth.