Two Hugo final ballot changes, and a question

I would like to take this opportunity (as the coordinator of the Sad Puppies 3 effort in 2015) to note that John C. Wright’s piece, “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” was not on the Sad Puppies 3 list. It appears this story was on the copycat Rabid Puppies alter-ego slate, being put forth by Vox Day.

Many people have been conflating the two slates (Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies) for the past ten days, and I think it’s important to make clear the fact that the two slates are different, while still being similar. I congratulate Thomas Olde Heuvelt, whose story “The Day The World Turned Upside Down” (from Lightspeed magazine) now takes a place on the 2015 Hugo final ballot. Good work, Thomas! And good luck!

One person who was on the Sad Puppies 3 ballot — Jon Eno — has been disqualified. I am sorry about that, Jon! I tried as best as I could to do my due diligence in researching the Hugo qualification rules, when I put you forward in that category. I think you’ve been doing a lot of very beautiful spec fic art, and I hope you continue to share your illustrations with all of us who follow you on Facebook.

Taking Jon’s place on the ballot is Kirk DouPonce, from the Rabid Puppies slate. Kirk’s been doing a bang-up excellent job with cover design, many examples of which can be seen at his site. Congratulations, Kirk! Terrific stuff, sir.

My question for the masses is: the year-to-year interpretations of the rules seem to occasionally be inconsistent. For example, John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War was indie published (to Scalzi’s web site) long before it was licensed by TOR for traditional publication, yet Old Man’s War was on the short list for Best Novel in 2006. Did anyone (at that time) ask for clarification? Seems to me if John C. Wright’s story can be bumped for prior web publication, this would have applied in Scalzi’s case too; unless the specific rules have changed since 2006.

Personal unpersoning

Ever since the furor over the Sad Puppies 3 slate kicked up last week, I’ve been getting tagged with comments about the infamous shock jock Vox Day. “When are you going to do something about him?” some ask. Others demand, “You must disavow him, otherwise it looks like you approve of his hate and racism.” Still others claim, “The longer you go without disavowing Vox, the more it makes me think you might actually agree with him.” And so on, and so forth.

Ah, gentle folk, such talk makes me tired. Are we really at that point? Have we really sunk to the place in the dialogue where failure to revile a man, automatically means approval or assent? If I do not hate him, I obviously love him?

It’s clear this isn’t about Vox Day as much as it’s about me signaling to the tribe that I can be bent to the tribe’s will.

Vox Day has been convicted of heinousness and expelled from the tribe. He is banished. While the rest of the Science Fiction village has turned its back, I’ve stood off to the side and observed the whole thing with a sour face, shaking my head. Neither with the tribe, nor against the tribe. Neither with Vox, nor against Vox.

Because I see two wrongs happening here. And like all of us were told by our grandparents, two wrongs don’t make a right.

Vox Day is a shock jock.

People let Vox push all the right buttons.

You keep mentioning his name over and over and over . . . Just like he wants you to.

It reminds me of the scene from the third ALIEN movie:

DILLON: You don’t wanna know me, lady. I’m a murderer and rapist of women.
RIPLEY: Really? . . . Well, I guess I must make you nervous.

See, that’s precisely the reaction you give the shock jock. He says something guaranteed to make you go full retard on him, you cooly reply that his worst invective doesn’t scare you, and you move on. That’s how you beat the shock jock.

You don’t devote years to a never-ending hissy fit of finger-pointing and jumping up and down, crying for his blood. That just makes the shock jock smile, because then he knows he’s won. He knows he is living rent-free in your head. He has outwitted and outgunned you on the psych ops battlefield. He is laughing at your rage.

Did nobody else learn this stuff in school? Did nobody else learn how to deflect and deflate the jerk? The guy who needled you and knew how to push all your buttons, until you were red with fury?

Come on, folks, this is basic stuff.

Yet, my critics persist. They are convinced of the righteousness that they do.


Still, I resist the temptation. And it is a temptation. All I have to do is admit that there are five lights, and the grilling and insinuation and character assassination will stop. I see four lights, but the commissars tell me there are five. Just say that there are five lights, Brad, like we want you to. Come on. You can do it. Five lights. Is that so hard? Better men than you have admitted it. Five. Lights.

So, how many lights do you see??

Vox yanks chains, kicks shins, and enjoys being a villain.

Vox has been (and will be again) a shit head.

But like I said, this isn’t about Vox anymore. It’s about the tribe. The tribe is trying to decide if I can be pressured to conform. If I can be pricked, poked, prodded, and cajoled into saying the words.

Say them, Brad. We need to hear you say them!

Five lights.

Hey tribe, guess what?

THERE . . . ARE . . . FOUR . . . LIGHTS!

Maybe Vox is terrible.

But the Marxist politics of unpersoning is much moreso.

It doesn’t matter if you think it’s justified.

Unperson enough people for enough “crimes” and you will eventually find yourself excommunicated from humanity.

I reject this. I reject the whole thing. As much as Vox is a serial dickhead, I reject his unpersoning. Being a dickhead is not a crime. It’s uncool. But it’s not a crime.

And I reject all who demand I partake in the unpersoning of anyone in this field. Even the polar opposites of Vox, who pour churlish and poisonous invective down onto the heads of innocent people; hatred from the so-called progressive side. These are broken souls – Vox, and his arch-enemies — but they are still human beings. They’re still part of the human equation. Criticize what they say. Criticize what they do.

Unpersoning? No.

You don’t know the fire you play with. You haven’t studied history enough to understand the pattern you are repeating. You think you mean well. You think you do this for some kind of justice. You think you are on the right side of history.

When it’s your turn to be unpersoned — for mere words; not even actions, words — remember that you were warned.

Flaming rage nozzles of tolerance

It’s been gorgeous spring weather here by the Great Salt Lake. I did the APFT yesterday, then went home and played catch and frisbee with my daughter, while also doing some outside chores on my Dad’s house. Plenty of sunshine and fresh air. Perfect for clearing a guy’s head.

I’m getting ready for an Army deployment to the Middle East, so my ability to keep up with this whole “conversation” — about Sad Puppies 3 — is soon going to diminish. So I don’t think I will spend much time this week (or even for the rest of this month) talking about the affair. Most of what needs to be said from my end, has been said. People either love Sad Puppies 3, or hate Sad Puppies 3, or are somewhere in between. Or, often, they simply don’t know what’s going on and don’t care. Which is 99% of the human race at this point. And that’s probably for the best. Few things are as boring to non-nerds, as a cage match nerd fight.

But . . .

I’ve been asked by several people if I am going to respond to commentary in Salon, Slate, or The Atlantic. I’ve been starting and stopping several such responses, ever since last weekend, and I keep pushing the PAUSE button because — in my opinion — Salon and other progressive tabloid sites like it, are merely symptoms of a deeper issue. I could spend the next week going point-for-point with Arthur Chu or Kameron Hurley, and I am sure none of us would be budged from our positions even an inch. It would not be a conversation. It would be a spectator sport, for the crowds. Chu in one corner, me in the other. That’s how these social media and tabloid journalism fights are set up to begin with. Pick a target, hit the target, see if the target fights back, rake in the clicks and the tweets and the likes and the ad revenue.

No, I’d rather talk about the shared assumptions which create these kinds of responses (to something like Sad Puppies 3) in the first place. Because the invocation of Chu, and the commentary of Hurley — tying the insider argument in SF/F about diversity, to the larger cultural argument about same — makes me want to broaden the scope of my response to the point I am not even talking about SF/F at all.

Western civilization is experiencing a post-Enlightenment crisis.

For hundreds of years we fought the chains of doctrinaire thinking — as told to us by superstition, folklore, and the churches. In the 20th century the trappings of the churches were almost entirely cast off, and for a few decades we (the West) thought we’d finally done it. We’d liberated our collective intellect from the machinery of dispensed truth. All souls would be free to find their own truths and their own meanings, and none could gainsay another man’s or woman’s path of self-discovery. The 21st century was going to be a wonderland of abundance economics, and the melting away of nationalism, tribalism, territorialism, and all the rotten isms of history. A global village, joined by the techno-wizardry of the internet, would rise.

When the first plane hit the first tower on September 11, 2001, the bubble popped.

History wasn’t done with us yet.

I remember in the wake of 9/11 there seemed to be two camps forming. The first camp devoted itself almost entirely to the question: What did we do to deserve this, and how can we say we’re sorry? The second camp asked: How can we bring the perpetrators to justice, and what can be done to stop them in the future?

The first camp focused on self-criticism, and the many post-Enlightenment narratives of inner blame.

The second camp focused on strategy and tactics, to combat the people who sponsored the men who flew the planes, and also to combat the ideology which drove those men to commit murder-suicide.

Now, almost two decades after the most famous international terrorist attack in history, its the children of the first camp who seem to be dominating our societal conversation. Because inner blame is practically the only thing that gets talked about these days. If someone else hurts, it’s because we either did it to them, or we didn’t do enough to stop the hurt, or we are merely hurtful as a factual matter of existing. Ergo, we are born hurtful, and anyone who denies it is merely perpetuating societal and systemic prejudices and wrong.

If you don’t own your hurting hurtfulness — merely because you live and breath and share space with others — you are guilty of any number of rancid ists and isms. You must be shown the error of your ways. You must be made to rip your shirt and beat your breast, about the terribleness of your life, and how you will do better. For all definitions of “better” which include running around demanding everyone else acknowledge his hurtfulness — even if he’s never lifted a finger to swat a fly. Simply being in the universe is hurtful. It’s hurtful to the environment. It’s hurtful to women. It’s hurtful to non-caucasians. It’s hurtful to non-heterosexuals. And so on, and so forth. Either you rip your shirt and beat your breast, and go on the attack against the other “hurters” in your circle, or you are double-plus guilty of being a hurter yourself.

The irony of this whole idea is that it’s simply a postmodernist secular reinvention of the concept of original sin.

Not coincidentally, we’ve seen postmodernist secular reinventions of hair shirts, self-flagellation, and the Spanish Inquisition. Determining guilt or innocence — at trial, in the courts of social media — does not depend on empirical evidence as much as it depends on acknowledging and following the forms and teachings of the doctrine. How well can you stand in the public square and engage in a Mao-style renunciation of yourself? Are you willing to call out and renounce others? Do you “own” your “privilege” with the appropriate amount of visible self-guilt, and are you willing to publicly point a finger at others?

Will you swear fealty to the Party?

Are you loyal to the Cause?

Last week, after the announcement of the Hugo awards final ballot, Sad Puppies 3 (and all involved with it) were declared guilty of going off the script. Questions of tradition and procedural propriety aside, the biggest sin of Sad Puppies 3 was that Larry Correia and I had both stated publicly that we believe in ideological diversity, rather than skin-deep diversity. We had questioned — Openly! Where the commissars could read it! — the doctrine of affirmative action. That a book’s worth or a story’s worth was a matter of pure audience enjoyment, versus merely a determination of the author’s demographics; or the demographics of the main characters.

For this, the flaming rage nozzles of tolerance unleashed their Inquisition. Within 24 hours both Larry and myself had had our names spread across a dozen different progressive tabloid and media sites. The content of the accusation was clownishly in error. It took only a few seconds to unearth the falsehoods, and demonstrate them to the world. Entertainment Weekly had to backtrack and erect several legalistic apologia, to avoid the threat of libel. But the facts were immaterial because the narrative is what mattered most. And the flaming rage nozzles of tolerance understand this fully. Anyone who goes off-script has to be squashed like a bug. Larry and I were deemed low-hanging fruit, so the flaming rage nozzles of tolerance speed-dialed their allies in the progressive media establishment, spoon-fed those allies a sloppy, almost embarrassingly asinine story, then sat back to watch as the progressive media trotted off obediently to do their work.

Neither Larry nor myself could be allowed to stray off the reservation.

Sarah Hoyt — born in Portugal, naturalized to the U.S. — has seen this kind of thing before. It’s the old Stalinist-Marxist mentality which Sarah got to see up close and personal. It’s the mentality my former boss (who was a refugee from Soviet-era Poland) knew all too well, too. Frankly, any time I talk about the 21st century American fascination with political correctness, refugees from the Marxist countries recognize it instantly: the collective effort to control and dictate what is and is not permissible to say, or to think, or to feel, including who you can and cannot associate with; lest you be hauled before the commissars to be tried for guilt-by-association.

Fear is their weapon.

Don’t get caught with the wrong crowd. Don’t be seen talking to the wrong people. Don’t pass the wrong guys so much as a crumb of your sympathy or attention, or you’re done. Your association is proof of your crimes. Whether or not you committed any crimes is beside the point. You were caught with the criminals, therefore you must also be a criminal. Protestations to the contrary, are merely further proof of your guilt. You were seen walking on the same sidewalk in the same direction. Guilty, until proven . . . guilty.

The kafkatrap is sprung.

This is how nominally good motivations — such as opposition to racial prejudice, or the desire to see historically disenfranchised persons achieve equal status and equal rights — become perverted. Because the original objectives of the movement(s) fall to the side, as people realize that the movement(s) themselves make perfect masks for what might be best described as benevolent totalitarianism: the commissars and “deciders” will choose for you which thoughts you are allowed to think, which words you are allowed to speak, and which people you are allowed to associate with. For your own good.

Because going off-script is dangerous.

Remember, the doctrine of the self-blamers. They believe everyone is born to hurt. You hurt people even when you are not hurting anyone. Your very existence hurts someone somewhere — at least if you are classified (according to the heirarchy of hurters) as being a prime source of psychic wounding.

So, either you get on-script, rip your shirt, beat your chest, and go on the attack against others, or the commissars will turn you into a target.

Last week Larry Correia and I were caught being fatally off-script.

The commissars (always self-designated) and their media enablers, reacted with knee-jerk efficiency.

Because the objective was to stir up still more flaming rage nozzles of tolerance. To see that the wrong-doers are punished and chastised and brought low before the “community” of benevolent tyranny. To wreck the wrong-doers in the public eye. Facts and logic are irrelevant. It’s the bloody script! We must stick to the script! The narrative! The hurters must be shown their born nature, then made to confess, and converted to the Cause!

To which Larry and I both said, “Fuck that, and fuck you.”

Now, the funny part is, the flaming rage nozzles of tolerance haven’t figured out yet that trying to enforce an artificial and restrictive form of invented morality upon people with free minds (and free pocketbooks) is like herding cats. If not waving a red cape in front of a herd of bulls.

Once the smear campaign was revealed, the conservative counter-media weighed in. The American Spectator, The Federalist, The Weekly Standard, Breitbart, and The National Review. For a few days, Larry and I both got to become minor folk heroes. Here was a textbook case of gullible, thud-footed, predictably programmed progressive media, trying to crush the little conservative guys — with benevolent hate and party-ginned lies.

In the minds of the flaming rage nozzles of tolerance, they’d won.

The evil-doers had been exposed, and all correct-thinking people would turn their backs, and Larry and I would be ruined forever.

See, thing is, this was like Chick-Fil-A. Remember how that went down? The flaming rage nozzles of tolerance said Chick-Fil-A (the entirety of the corporation) was off-script. The goombah progressive media clown car was called in, and boycotts were announced — to punish Chick-Fil-A for being off-script.

What did free people do?

They gave Chick-Fil-A its greatest week in collective company history.

Business out the wazoo. Cash pouring in, from sales, hand-over-fist.

Because this is how free people give the flaming rage nozzles of tolerance — the commissars — a giant middle finger.

So, too, are free people reacting against the attack on Sad Puppies 3. I think Larry and I came out way ahead on that one, even though it was an exhausting week filled with thousands of messages and lots of activity on social media; to defend our case and refute the slander.

But this is just a skirmish, as Chick-Fil-A was too a skirmish. The flaming rage nozzles of tolerance haven’t gone away. They are still with us, and they are multiplying. They are everywhere in our institutions, especially our schools and universities, and they are working to gain control of the ultimate levers of power: the law. Once the law is in the hands of the commissars, free people everywhere — with free minds — will be at risk. And no, just because you were a good and obedient subject during the run-up to the purges, doesn’t mean you will be spared. If the ejection and execution of Trotsky (in the 20th century) taught us anything, it’s that the self-flensing (among the commisars) is almost more cut-throat, than when they are attacking objectors.

I consider it the duty of Science Fiction and Fantasy fans, authors, and editors, to be anti-authoritarian. Even to include (or especially to include?) benevolent authoritarianism. The cuddly pink fluffy cudgel of political correctness must be opposed by men and women with courage, and the conviction of their free-minded principles. Now is the time for this field — more than any other genre in the literary arts — to demonstrate that it is dangerous. To the commissars. To the flaming rage nozzles of tolerance. To the people who believe the ends justify the means.

Sad Puppies 3: were they contacted?

From the keyboard of George R. R. Martin:

Also… really, when you come down to it, this whole “were they contacted?” thing is a false issue. Torgensen says he contacted almost everyone, but missed a few. Some of his slate say no, they never heard from him… but does it really matter? I have been trying my damndest to get Alan Lee and John Howe nominated for Best Artist for years, and I never asked if I could. This year I wrote a long post about the brilliance of STATION ELEVEN and why it should be nominated in Best Novel, and I never contacted Emily St. John Mandel to ask if I could. I will not condemn Brad Torgensen for failing to do what I never do myself.

George is on record stating he dislikes the SP3 slate, as a thing. Not the contents so much, but as a concept. Thankfully George’s critical analysis skills are much more sharp than those of some other people who have spent the past week flailing away at the question of, “Were they contacted?”

I have said it adamantly: this is a red herring. It doesn’t really matter.

People kept hammering me: were they contacted??

Yes, I tried to contact as many people as I could. Hundreds of messages and e-mails. A few people turned me down, both before and after the slate went live at the beginning of February. I graciously pulled those who said, “Wait, I want off!” Many more have been unhappy about being later drafted for Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies alter-ego slate. For the latter case, I don’t blame them a bit, because many of the people I contacted for SP3 specifically said, “Don’t put me on anything Vox Day is going to be on,” and in point of fact, Vox Day is not on Sad Puppies 3 anywhere. I can’t be responsible for what Vox does. Only what I do. And I worked pretty damned hard to be courteous and reach out to people. Because I knew it was the gentlemanly thing. And I am sorry I missed some individuals, and that these individuals were unhappy with it. And for these failures, I accept full accountability. My bad.

But really, can I ask the field to step back and examine a deeper question? To go along with what George said above?

Why does being on a list force any author, artist, or editor, to have to explain anything?

Poor Annie Bellet had to roll out a long list of progressive bona fides to “prove” she is not in league with the dark forces. That she is a child of the light. That she is not now, nor has she ever been, a member of the Communist Party!

Why did Annie have to do that?

Because the instant her name appeared on a list, people started in on her. Assumptions began to be made. All kinds of loyalty tests began to be applied. The questions and the dividing and the truth-testing and the probing. Is she of the tribe? How can we tell if she is of the tribe?? She let herself be on the bad list! Not a good list, a bad list! The list we all agreed was bad! We agreed on it! Nobody in the tribe would assent to be on the bad list unless she was bad too, right? Right? Annie must disavow the list. To prove she is good, she must be made to disavow the list!!

Sarah Hoyt and I have both talked about how this field suffers cognitive dissonance on the question of inclusivity. The field praises itself for being loving and open and kind and wonderful, but I think that’s only the very rose-colored half of it. Because running below the surface is fear. Fear of being found out. Fear of being with the wrong people. Fear of being on the wrong lists, or publishing with the wrong publishers, or even worse, fear of being caught not properly disavowing the people you’re told to disavow. Are you “of the flesh” of Fandom? Are your papers in order? Because we’ve got good evidence that your papers are not in order! And we all know what happens to you if your papers are not in order!!

Your papers???

Here’s George again:

I do not believe in Guilt by Association, and that’s what we’d be doing if we vote against every name on the Puppy slates simply because they are on the slate. That was a classic weapon of the McCarthy Era: first you blacklist the communists, then you blacklist the people who defend the communists and the companies that hire them, then you blacklist the people who defend the people on the blacklist, and on and on, in ever widening circles. No. I won’t be part of that.

If Sad Puppies 3 does nothing else this year, I hope it makes Fandom (all of us, and all of you who tacitly put dividing lines between “us” and “them” without even thinking) take a long, hard look in the mirror. I’ve been a fan (small f) since I was single-digit old. My fandom never had to be proven. There was no club. No rites or rituals or dues. I liked what I liked. Eventually, I got so enthusiastic, I decided to create my own material. People have said they enjoy what I do. Somehow, this seems like it ought to be good enough for me to walk into any con anywhere on the planet and say, “I am here, I belong,” and nobody should bat an eyelash.

The problem is, WSFS doesn’t really work like that. The field as a whole doesn’t work like that.

It claims to want to work like that: no questions asked, all may come.

But all the high drama over the past month, about the “wrong” people getting in the door the “wrong” way and the “wrong” names going on the Hugo ballot from the “wrong” lists, merely reinforces my point. A point Michael Z. Williamson nailed between the eyeballs with his piece he posted a few days back.

Folks, if you want to prove you’re inclusive, loving, embracing, and so forth, do it with action. Not just talk.

If people have to conform to your expectations or your litmus tests before you will accept them, no, you are not inclusive and loving and embracing in the way you think you are. You are loving and inclusive and embracing as long as the newcomers speak and talk and think and have fun just like you.

And that’s a broken way to be, for a thing branding itself WORLD SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTION.

So, fix it, or be quiet with all this talk of inclusivity and welcoming new folks. That’s just a party line. The small slights and the noses in the air and the turning away, all of that speaks far louder than your words.

And it’s a big reason why the BIG world of fans (small f) left the little world of Fans (big f) behind. It’s why a little flyover town like Salt Lake City can host a record-breaking 150,000 raving, crazy, adorable fans during three days of glorious fannish mayhem, while Worldcon stamps and harumphs and Fandom people grouse about what’s the best way to bring in new blood.

You do it by not giving a damn if anybody’s papers are in order!


Vox plays chicken with Worldcon

Facebook is lighting up with outrage over the fact that the notorious Vox Day is threatening to go all NO AWARD on the Hugo ballot in 2016, if NO AWARD takes the Hugo ballot in 2015. Amidst the wailing and gnashing of teeth and blaming the family dog (me) for the fact a wild wolf (Vox) is growling at the door, I have to ask everybody: what did you freaking expect when you made it plain as day the whole reason for going NO AWARD in 2015 is to keep Vox’s imprint Castalia House (and Vox himself) off the trophy table? That’s like putting a bloody leg of beef into the water while a great white shark circles nearby. You are daring The Kurgan to play chicken with you. That is The Kurgan’s most favorite game. The wild wolf lives for danger. The wild wolf wants you to nuke it all from orbit. This is Mutually Assured Destruction.

Frankly, I think everybody should just do what Mary Robinette Kowal and Dan Wells and Scalzi and Correia and Jason Sanford and myself have been recommending you do, and read your voter packet and vote like the stories and books are just stories and books.

If Vox borks the Hugos in 2016, he is the biggest asshole SF/F has ever seen in its history.

Vox, please don’t be an asshole.

If the people who hate Vox bork the Hugos in 2015, they are the biggest assholes SF/F has ever seen in its history.

Vox-haters, please don’t be assholes.

Will anybody listen to me? I know Vox sure as hell doesn’t give a fuck what I think. When did he ever? He didn’t give a fuck when SFWA sent him packing. He doesn’t give a fuck who hates him. If Sad Puppies evaporates tomorrow and ceases to exist, Vox won’t give a shit at all. Because Vox doesn’t give a shit what any of us think, and doesn’t care. When did The Kurgan ever? This is a fight for The Prize. You cut off his head, he cuts off your head.

Or maybe we all just read the motherloving stories and books and act like fucking grownups for a fucking change.

Gulag diary, day 6

It’s cold here. Very cold. Commissar Chu laughed when he said he didn’t expect me to last the month. I still can’t rightly explain how I got to this place. I am writing these words with the stub of an old pencil I found in the back of the box car. The train from civilization was packed. Nose to nose. I think most of us can tell the same story. One instant, we were sitting in our homes safe and sound, browsing the internet. The next instant, our doors came down and the enforcers stormed in. I remember screaming. And a woman’s face — another of the endless number of commissars — as she watched me dragged out the door. She was visibly gleeful over the fact that the Peoples Republic of Science Fiction had discovered me. There would be no trial, she gloated. Merely punishment.

I’m actually seeing a lot of familiar faces here, assuming I can pry my eyelids open against the arctic wind. On the work gangs, they chain us together at the ankles and make us recite the lines from Andrea Dworkin and Derrick Bell. Those who fail to enunciate with force . . . are whipped savagely. Sometimes, when my back is bleeding from the numerous blows, I wonder what happened to my wife and daughter. You’d think a man’s life, honestly lived, would be enough to speak for his character?

But I have learned the hard truth: our commissars aren’t interested in proof. Only confessions.

You are guilty until proven . . . guilty.

Tomorrow they march us to the reservoir. An experienced man — barely more than a skeleton, after all this time in the gulag — thinks we’ll spend the morning burying the dead. He’s had to do it twice before. They will make us carve a pit in the earth with dull picks and blunted shovels. Then we will carry the free to their final, unmarked resting place. And pour the dirt back over them.

I almost envy those people. They have escaped the harangues and the marathon reeducation sessions, with commissars pacing the aisles and shouting “TOLERANCE!” at us through the speakers of their olive drab bullhorns. If you try to cover your ears, they kick you until you’re bruised.

The giant posters of progress are arrayed on every wall in every building in the Peoples Republic. Those posters are here with us now, in the pallet wood dormitories that lack heating and proper toilets. Only, tattered and smudged now. Made shabby by the wearing of time, and the disinterest of all us prisoners.

I think the soiled condition of the propaganda quite suitable.

The dream of the cultural revolution is dead. Long live the cultural revolution.

If my fingers are not too swollen, I may write again soon. And hope they don’t find these scraps of paper I have to hide in my shoes.

Sad Puppies 3: The Judgment of Solomon

Now that the internet is cooling down from its 15-minute rage nozzle episode (over the Sad Puppies 3 slate) I’d like to talk about something I see being floated a lot, among friends and critics alike: that the presence of the Sad Puppies 3 slate so thoroughly roils the voting waters, men and women of good conscience must vote “No Award” on their ballots. For those not in the know, the Hugo awards — Science Fiction & Fantasy literature’s self-labeled “most prestigious award” — the “No Award” option allows voters to pick a thumbs-down selection, in the event that none of the other works or people in a given category measure up to that voter’s expectations. In other words, if you have five flavors of ice cream to pick from, and you like none of them, you vote “No Award” for that category, and NO AWARD then becomes your primary selection.

Hugo voting is instant-runoff, so this means you could get creative about it. Let’s say you love strawberry ice cream, like chocolate ice cream, don’t mind vanilla, but you definitely don’t like orange sherbet or pralines and cream. So, when you fill out your Hugo ballot, you rank your selections as follows:

1 – Strawberry.
2 – Chocolate.
3 – Vanilla.
5 – Orange sherbet.

Or, if you simply like none of the above, you could do:

2 – Strawberry.
3 – Chocolate.
4 – Vanilla.
5 – Orange sherbet.

In the second scenario, if enough people vote as you do, the category will literally be carried by NO AWARD for that year, and no award will be given out. Everything below “No Award” will get left out in the cold. As having not measured up to the expectations of a majority of the voting body.

Historically, this almost never happens. At least in the literary categories, like Best Novel. Never has NO AWARD swept an entire fiction selection out of the running for a Hugo trophy. But there’s a lot of talk that this is precisely what’s going to happen by August 2015. Several editors, many significant and long-time fans, and even many relatively young fans, writers, and podcasters are all buzzing about how the “solution” to Sad Puppies, is to nuke the Hugos from NO AWARD orbit — because it’s the only way to be sure.

I find this to be peculiar and contradictory talk, for a field which has also been buzzing hotly about how it loves Science Fiction and it loves Fantasy, and what a shame it’s going to be to have to destroy the award in order to preserve and protect it from falling into the hands of the “wrong” voters or the “wrong” lists.

Have none of these individuals ever heard of the Judgment of Solomon?

If not, here’s a refresher from Sunday School: King Solomon had two mothers come before him, challenging each other for custody of a single baby. Unable to determine which mother had right of guardianship, Solomon said the the baby would be cut in half, so that one half would go to each mother. One of the women said, “Fine, kill the baby, so that neither of us shall have it,” while the actual mother of the child said, “No, she can have my son, just please don’t kill him!” Thus Solomon knew immediately who the real mother was. Because the actual mother’s love prevented her from seeing harm come to the child, even if it meant giving the child up.

The way you prove to the world you love a thing, is not to cut it in half — so that nobody gets anything.

The way you prove to the world that you love a thing, is to see the thing preserved. Maybe it winds up in the hands of somebody you don’t think deserves it, or because you don’t like how the thing got there in the first place. But declaring, “Cut it in half,” reveals a jealous possessiveness that belies any love that may be felt.

Right now Sad Puppies 3 is at the eye of a rather contentious genre storm, wherein many people who feel they have a claim on the Hugo awards — how they’re selected, and to whom they should go, according to tradition — are being challenged by people who feel they’ve either not had a voice in the past, or that their voices were too few, or too much ignored; even when they aren’t few. And because the system is a democratic system, anyone and everyone willing to pay the poll tax — in the form of a Worldcon membership — is allowed to participate. So the question comes down to, which sentiment will carry the day? The feeling that the baby (the Hugo) should be split and given to none? Or the feeling that the baby should be spared, even if it means the baby belongs to the “wrong” people?

My gut hunch is that there simply aren’t enough people at Worldcon willing to split the baby. I get it that purists and idealists alike have been most unhappy with the resounding success of Sad Puppies 3. If either myself or anyone else who’ve been working on Sad Puppies 3 this year, thought there was a better way to make some changes to the same-old same-old that has gone on — with the Hugos, in years past — I am sure we’d have picked a less dramatic method. Still, we broke no rules. We played the game the way it’s supposed to be played. And we’re proud of the authors, artists, editors, and other people we’ve brought to the final ballot. Both because of their many fine and worthy works, and the fact that this wasn’t just the result of a few people acting alone. A terrific number of fans — yes, even old-timers within WSFS; I know, I have the e-mails — threw in with Sad Puppies 3. For the sake of making a point. For a change of pace. To have some fun. And to put their weight behind a particular favorite (or favorites) who had been too long overlooked or neglected.

Now, my gut hunch might be wrong. Possessiveness can be as powerful an emotion as love. And many people, when jealously guarding a thing, will often default to wanting that thing destroyed, rather than see it fall into the “wrong” hands.

But I don’t think this will be the case. Oh, no question, “No Award” is going to be featured prominently in any category where Sad Puppies 3 (with the counter-slate Rabid Puppies) occupies all five of the available slots. I won’t be surprised to see “No Award” take third, or perhaps even second, place. But I doubt very much that “No Award” will claim first place in any category. Because there simply aren’t enough fans — even WSFS stalwarts — who are willing to turf an entire category out of spite. There are too many worthy works in all of the categories. Including works not on the SP3 or RP slates. And SF/F fans are like cats: notoriously averse to being herded. Plus, as a few pros have demonstrated, there is plenty or principled logic to support reading and voting for a work or a person on a slate despite disliking the slate itself. Why punish a good writer or editor or artist, simply for being on a list? It’s not like all the people participating in the nomination period dutifully went down the rows, reliably checking all the items without a second glance. Not for SP3, and not for any other suggested lists either — and there were many such lists, though perhaps not quite so extensive as ours.

In point of fact, of all the many SP3 voters who’ve contacted me at this point — and it’s been well over a hundred, and counting — even the people who stuck close to the trunk of the tree, deviated from the slate in remarkable ways.

Which was never a problem for anyone working on SP3 behind the scenes. We made it clear up front at the beginning: we wanted more involvement, first and foremost. Whether or not people followed our suggestions wasn’t nearly as important as the fact that we wanted people who’d not had a voice before, to have a voice. And we wanted them to read the suggested works, and make their own calls.

Now we’re faced with the call for “No Award! If you love the Hugos! No Award!”

It’s the Judgment of King Solomon, come to SF/F’s top accolade.

Choose wisely, my friends.

A dispatch from Fort Living Room

I ordinarily keep my family pictures private. I don’t share many of them on the internet. But in this instance, I think I’ll post one. That’s my wife Annie, my daughter Olivia, and me, back in 2008 — when we first moved into our (then) new house in Utah. As of the writing of these words, Annie and I have been married for over 21 years. We’re opposites in most ways. Personality opposites. Political opposites. And — apropos to this particular discussion — racial opposites. From the time we got married in the Salt Lake City LDS Temple in December of 1993, until now, it’s been an exercise in learning how to live together, cherish, and love one another, despite the differences. I’m proud of my wife. She’s not only smart, she’s got an enormous heart, I’ve never seen her judge people unfairly, and she’s never been afraid to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty. Of all the decisions I’ve ever made in my life, deciding to marry Annie was by far the best. She is my best friend. She is my lover. She is the mother of my child. She is, quite simply, the better part of everything that I hold dear and precious in this world.

Those of you who watch this space know that I’ve taken on a bit of a burden since January. It’s explicitly related to the field of Science Fiction and Fantasy literature, so I won’t bore anyone with all the long, nerdish details. Suffice to say, the Sad Puppies 3 project has brought me into the epicenter of a heated contest inside the field. It’s a very “inside baseball” affair. But today — thanks to the magic of the internet — it took on a much wider, much more personal dimension.

Because a blog “journalist” named Isabella Biedenharn — working beneath the banner of Entertainment Weekly — penned a short, error-laden article titled, “Hugo award nominations fall victim to misogynistic, racist voting.” The mistakes in the article could have been easily avoided if Isabella had done some research into the issue she was reporting on. Near as I can tell, Isabella was spoon-fed some links and a very rushed and sloppy narrative about Sad Puppies 3 being racist and woman-hating, and she posted all of this without stopping to consider whether or not anything she was disseminating into the wider world was true, and accurate.

The error-laden article quickly went viral — especially among opponents of Sad Puppies 3. Twitter (which I generally avoid and ignore) lit up like a Christmas tree, and quickly I had friends and other authors contacting me to say, “Entertainment Weekly has run a hatchet piece on you! Better jump on it!” So I read the piece. I noted the errors. I also noted that the piece made an explicitly inductive link between Sad Puppies 3 and last year’s great nerd controversy: GamerGate. The reasons for this were pretty obvious. Words like “racist” and “misogynist” are presently code for “not part of the human equation” thus any man or woman who can be successfully labeled these things, is cut off from polite circles, perhaps even driven out of the workplace, or worse. These words tend to be used as general-purpose ideological grenades, when the thrower of said grenades lacks sufficiently real evidence of wrong-doing — but wants to see the target squirm and suffer anyway.

An unadulterated version of the Isabella Biedenharn article can be found here.

The presently “corrected” version of the article — Entertainment Weekly made several alterations to the article, including its root URL, after myself and many others noted that the article was a) grossly in error and could also b) serve as grounds for libel litigation — can be viewed here.

But of course, by then, the damage had been done. Both myself and my colleague Larry Correia — who typed up a very good piece here — had been dragged through the digital mud. I count no less than a dozen different links which all picked up the error-laden Biedenharn piece, and ran with it sight-unseen; because of the blaring headline. Again, the spoon-fed in turn spoon-feed others. And whatever hope there might have been that facts could trump a narrative, was lost in the white noise of a not-so-subtle smear job.

I can’t say which individuals decided to launch the smear job. The internet moves at the speed of light and the 24 hour news cycle is forever hungry for new material; regardless of how bogus it might be. I suspect some of the insider SF/F people who dislike Sad Puppies 3 decided that the best way to “win” the insider baseball argument, was to stage a broader media flare-up for the sake of fatally discrediting the “poster people” of Sad Puppies 3. Namely, myself, and Larry Correia.

Now, I am a patient man. I’ve got a long fuse. But this tactic employed today . . . it’s on another level. This isn’t just nerds bickering anymore. Baseless, false allegations of this type can ruin careers as well as lives. We’ve seen this before. The internet has allowed yellow journalism and rumor-mongering to run riot. And I have to be honest. No lie told in the service of a supposedly higher cause, ever does justice to the higher cause. No matter how widely-spread the narrative. If the basis of the narrative is false, then the narrative itself is fatally undermined, and thus the arguments that form the building blocks of the narrative are themselves undermined.

Oh, I am sure this will blow over eventually. To Entertainment Weekly’s credit, they did take action — once myself and others explicitly told them that the Biedenharn article was a dreadfully poor piece of research. Frankly, I feel like Biedenharn herself owes myself and Larry Correia a public apology. That was shoddy reporting. And it’s potentially very damaging. I mean, if you’re going to play a role in somebody else’s effort to trash us, at least spend two minutes doing a little googling.

I understand that tabloid tactics make money, and that on the internet especially, journalistic integrity has become something of an oxymoron.

What disturbs me more is that the field of SF/F is stooping this low. That some of my colleagues — and no, contrary to my impression of the field 20 years ago, not everyone likes or gets along with each other — have decided to make the nerd argument over the Hugos into a decidedly personal grudge match. Where the objective is to not just win the argument, but to destroy the arguer. Professionally. In the marketplace. On the big stage of public opinion. This is the kind of stuff you ordinarily find in cut-throat national political elections, but then it’s been clear for years that cut-throat politics have drifted down into nerd circles of all kinds: comic book circles, movie and television circles, video game circles, etc. There’s simply no escaping it. And there are people for whom winning is more important than ethics, more important than integrity, and more important than the truth.

And the truth is, I’m not the dastardly guy Biedenharn’s piece makes me out to be. And neither is Larry Correia.

Am I concerned with the infestation of political correctness which has invaded SF/F over the last 15 years? You bet. Today’s ride on the media dunking machine was just another iteration in the near-endless attempts by the politically correct to enforce their views, with slander and falsehoods when it comes down to it. Our field is diseased. It has been struck by the same mental virus that has been permeating other sectors of our culture. As one astute and recovered victim put it, the new zealots are a cult who dwell in depression and anger, seeking the slightest excuses to lash out and make other people suffer:

There is something dark and vaguely cultish about this particular brand of politics. I’ve thought a lot about what exactly that is. I’ve pinned down four core features that make it so disturbing: dogmatism, groupthink, a crusader mentality, and anti-intellectualism.

Today, the crusader mentality decided to defame and slander Brad R. Torgersen the evil demonic racist and hateful sick bigoted misognynist.

As my friend Larry often quips, if I was half the bastard some of these crusaders say I am, I’d probably hate me too.

Alas, the crusader mentality has a tendency to invent evil where none exists. They forge effigies and ventriloquist dummies, crudely fashioned in the likeness of decent human beings, to which are ascribed all manner of idiocy, heinousness, wrong-doing, wrong-thinking, and evil. The internet hat pins are thrust into the digital voodoo dolls over and over and over, while the twitter and hashtag lemmings disperse out into the world, spreading falsehoods and slander as far as their keyboards can take them.

Look, I am pretty much a classical liberal. I keep my own counsel about things. I don’t like going with crowd-think. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I am slow to anger. Quick to forgive honest mistakes. And I have taken one of Larry Niven’s law’s to heart: there are minds which think as well as mine, just differently. I live with one of those minds every day. Have slept with her in the same bed for two decades. We produced an amazingly bright and creative daughter who is this crazy-quilt pastiche of both Annie and myself. I prize logic over emotion, where strong emotion is liable to fool us. And I think that most internet disagreements would probably be resolved in short order if the pugilists in any given fight could simply sit down face-to-face and talk like rational human beings.

Which might reflect a little naive hopefulness on my part. Because, clearly, the people who instigated today’s parade of falsehoods at Entertainment Weekly were not eager for reconciliation. This was straight-up character assassination. A slash-and-burn hit job. Aided and abetted by media devices which are programmed to seek and spread controversy, for the sake of clicks, likes, and money.

Is Sad Puppies 3 a terrible thing? It is if you ask the opponents of same.

Is Sad Puppies 3 hateful to women or ethnic minorities?

Only if you believe Sad Puppies 3 participants like Annie Bellet or Rajnar Vajra don’t count.

I think perhaps what some people (unused to the insider baseball of SF/F) might not be clear about, is that Sad Puppies 3 is not a thing invented to keep anyone off the Hugo ballot for demographic reasons. It was invented to (originally) poke fun at some tired predictabilities in the selection process, as well as scuttle the notion that the award was actually all about quality, when it’s more or less been a popularity and quasi-politicized contest the whole time. Along the way we fairly skewered the concept of literary affirmative action — that works and authors should be judged on the basis of author or character demographics and box-checking, not the audience’s enjoyment of the prose — so perhaps that’s where opponents of SP3 thought they found a toe-hold? And used it as best as they could to rope in a lot of outside media, in a clownish attempt to punish and discredit both Larry and myself.

Obviously, anyone who tries to make a coherent case for me being racist or sexist . . . has over 21 years of contradictory evidence to overcome. You cannot have lived my life, and be a racist or a sexist. It is an ontological impossibility. I’ve seen too much of the elephant, to borrow a phrase. Plus, my wife probably would have thrown me out on my butt a long time ago — she being the far more astute judge of character, than either a low-rent tabloid blogger or a pernicious and vindictive SF/F personality.

But really, when SF/F sinks to this depth, you know we’ve jumped a certain kind of unfortunate shark. Political correctness has gone to a place of destructive take-no-prisoners soul tyranny that could very well and permanently wreck this field; unless good men and women of conscience decide to stand up. I made the decision a long time ago that I wasn’t going to be one of those professionals who diplomatically skulks around the field, obsequiously trying to avoid controversy and not upset the bigger fish. Again, I’ve seen too much of the elephant. My career isn’t so important to me that I am willing to become an ideological chameleon, or cipher. Perhaps this has angered some people to the point they believe it’s time to “end” Torgersen once and for all? If so, I think that’s a very sad statement — about the vindictiveness that has overtaken the genre, among men and women who should probably be working hard to be friends.

Folks, until or unless political correctness is given the boot, this kind of stuff isn’t going to stop.

It won’t be just me getting the torch. It will be you too. You other authors, and you other fans. Political correctness has a bottomless stomach, and is red in tooth and claw. Even if you try to appease the beast, it will eat you eventually anyway.

Well, I hope I gave the beast indigestion for at least one day. Tomorrow, there will be new victim(s).

Meanwhile, I am content knowing that Fort Living Room — at least — remains comfy and secure. I had a great time with my wife and daughter tonight. It was a celebration on a small family scale. We laughed at episodes of Bob’s Burgers, and we had delicious chicken teriyaki, and we also watched talks from LDS General Conference. The Torgersens are not a complicated family. In fact, I’d say we’re like most other families in America. We try hard to live our lives and do well by others, believing that good karma always comes back to you. Even if life occasionally kicks you in the teeth.

Entertainment Weekly guilty of libel?

BRAD: A letter I sent to the editors of Entertainment Weekly.

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to point out some rather egregious problems with this article:

Firstly, the SAD PUPPIES slate cited in the article, included both women and non-caucasians.

Rajnar Vajra
Larry Correia
Annie Bellet
Kary English
Toni Weisskopf
Ann Sowards
Megan Gray
Sheila Gilbert
Jennifer Brozek
Cedar Sanderson
Amanda Green

Secondly, I myself have been interracially married for the past 21 years.

Your article writer (ISABELLA BIEDENHARN) needs to correct the disinformation in the article and apologize for deliberately getting the facts wrong.

The article above may have merely been an opinion piece, but there is strong evidence for libel.

Please respond.

Brad R. Torgersen
Award-winning author
Chief Warrant Officer, United States Army Reserve

The peasant revolt will be televised

From Merriam-Webster:

Snob (noun)
– one who blatantly imitates, fawningly admires, or vulgarly seeks association with those regarded as social superiors.
– one who tends to rebuff, avoid, or ignore those regarded as inferior.
– one who has an offensive air of superiority in matters of knowledge or taste.

It’s been most of a full day since the final Hugo award ballot was announced, for the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention. If you’re tuned in to this thing — and if you’re reading this, you probably are — you’ve no doubt seen the small mountain of verbal outrage which has flooded forth. Because the SP3 slate didn’t just do well with nominating voters, it did overwhelmingly well. A raft of notions has been forwarded by different critics, to explain the “discrepancy” in the 2015 ballot. Most of the critical commentary takes the form of very earnest protestations focusing on violation of etiquette — though, again, SP3 broke no rules — and seem intent to make SP3 out as nothing more than a “fringe effort” by a minority.

Please go look at the Merriam-Webster definition I’ve provided above.

Because 100% of the opposition to SP3 can be distilled down to that single concept: snobbery.

You, gentle SP3 supporter, are not good enough. The refined arbiters of the field all say so. Your politics are wrong, your taste is wrong, your reading habits are wrong, your affiliations within fandom are wrong, you like the wrong things, you go to the wrong fan meetings, you are part of the wrong circles, you like the wrong publishers, and you vote wrong when you cast your ballots. You’ve been told this for years, in variously subtle and sometimes unintentional ways. But now your intellectual and moral betters in the field are getting more explicit about it.

Patrick Nielsen-Hayden:
Does the desire to expand fandom mean we have to welcome every imaginable kind of person? I think a moment’s reflection reveals that no, we do not. The SF convention that finds itself sharing a hotel with the International Association of Cheerful Child-rapers can probably be excused for not inviting them to come visit the con suite.

Patrick is the chief boss at the publisher TOR, a brand label which has (until this year) tended to make out remarkably well on the Hugo ballot. Perhaps a little too well? TOR still has some works on this year’s ballot, though not in the percentages TOR (and Patrick) might have become accustomed to. I find Patrick’s commentary illuminating, but also puzzling. At least if you consider the fact that at least one highly-praised SF/F luminary was recently outed for collusion in her husband’s “cheerful child-raper” activities, and another highly-praised luminary is an admitted fan of the National Man-Boy Love Association. Perhaps Patrick would like to revise his comparisons? Maybe not. Like his wife Teresa Nielsen-Hayden, Patrick clearly doesn’t want you at Worldcon if you are the “wrong” kind of fan. (Read that as: whoever or whatever Patrick does not approve of from hour to hour.)

Moshe Feder:
I have to give this some thought, but I may have to conclude that an ethical fan with traditional fannish values has no choice but to only consider nominees _not_ backed by the slates and, if not satisfied that those deserve to win, to then vote No Award in as many categories as necessary. No Award is our last bastion against corruption.

Moshe is also a senior editor at TOR, and perhaps not surprisingly has a rather specific definition of who should be allowed to decide what is and is not award-worthy in the field. “Traditionally fannish” would seem to be defined as “anything or anyone Moshe approves of” but all the rest of us are left out in the cold. Moshe’s also made it clear he believes SP3 to be an entirely “right wing” invasion of the Hugo selection process, which ignores the fact Marko Kloos, Kevin J. Anderson, Kary English, Annie Bellet, Jim Minz, Jim Butcher, and many other SP3 slate suggestions are either explicitly not right-wing, or are cagey about their political affiliations so that we have no idea if they’re progressive or conservative. Just because Larry Correia is an outspoken conservative, and I am a moderate conservative, doesn’t mean the entire slate is nothing but conservatives. Of course, for those with “traditionally fannish” tastes, even a minor up-tick in conservative representation on the Hugos, is probably cause for severe alarm.

Steve Davidson:
Those putting forth and endorsing the slate are certainly of fandom, but they do not understand fandom. If they really did, they’d never have started this voting slate nonsense to begin with. Indications that they’ve had to go outside of fandom in order to gain recruits suggests that fandom largely rejected their actions – a message that they should have heeded early on.

Here again is the “inside” talk, for the purpose of discussing the problem of “outside” invaders come to participate in a democratic process. Davidson, like Moshe Feder, sees the world being split between the “inside” people such as himself, and others with a similar mindset, history, and inculcation in Worldcon’s long history, and “outside” people — which includes you, me, and everyone else who ever came to love and adore Science Fiction & Fantasy, without being inculcated. Like so many others, Davidson loves the Hugos so much, he wants you all to destroy the awards this year. By voting “No Award” because we certainly do not want the “wrong” people possibly winning!

Charlie Jane Anders:
The only processes that really get you there are deliberative, involving a lot of public discussion and private rumination. That’s how you get surprising, out-of-nowhere choices. As someone who won a Hugo Award in 2012, I’m sad that there might be one less avenue out there for new writers to be plucked from obscurity and put on a stage with their idols.

Charlie Jane seems to be ignoring the many authors on the SP3 slate who have never before received even a single Hugo award nomination, including venerable greats like Kevin J. Anderson — the long slighting of one of the field’s titans has finally ended! — and also successful independent authors like Annie Bellet, Marko Kloos, and new and up-and-coming authors such as Kary English. I find it difficult to believe that the status quo Charlie Jane is defending, would have turned up any more fresh and new people, than someone like Kary. My hunch is that Charlie Jane only has eyes (and votes) for new writers who get plucked from places Charlie Jane approves of, or who come to the table with certain demographic box-checking bona fides Charlie Jane might find attractive; as an author-activist. But the message is clear: SP3 doesn’t “count” and neither do you, dear SP3 voter. You’re not part of Charlie Jane’s “solution” so you are obviously part of the “problem” and this makes Charlie Jane sad. So please go away before you ruin the Hugos for Charlie Jane any further.

And there’s much, much more. But you get the gist of it. SP3 and its participants and its voters are not welcome. Not wanted. Wrong kind of people. Definitely not the sort of fans who get to be Fans (note the caps) according to the insular rules of “cool kid” politics being played by people who very much view the field as their exclusive domain. A place where you — the fan (small caps) are not invited to play. Your voice is not the kind of voice they (the “cool kids”) want. You didn’t come up through Fandom (caps) the way they did, or you don’t bring the right ideology to the table, or you are the wrong demographics to suit the desires and needs of the author-activists. You are just a fan (small caps) and the Hugo (as evidenced above) was never an award about you. It was an award for the snobs.

Only, it’s not a snob award. It’s your award too.

And World Science Fiction Convention is your convention.

This field — the field of Science Fiction & Fantasy — is your field.

Nobody can tell you that you don’t belong. They may certainly try. In fact you have to wonder about the cognitive dissonance of any individuals who annually complain that Fandom (caps) is getting older and shrinking, but who actively seek to thwart “outsiders” — and who have many hangers-on who will actively aid in this exclusive effort. Because we certainly can’t allow the wrong kinds of people and the wrong fans and the wrong ideologies to sneak through the door. This is the “cool kids” club, after all. Regardless of how tireless the concoms may work to advertise and invite participation. The “cool kids” who regard Fandom (caps) as their personal club, and the Hugo as their personal award, don’t want you.

In fact, they never wanted any of us.

Snobbery. It’s a thing. And unfortunately for Fandom (caps) it’s rather rampant.

Thankfully, Sasquan (the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention, Spokane, WA) and MidAmericCon 2 (the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, Kansas City, MO) are ready and willing to take your membership dues. For a small price you get a hell of a nice voter package, worth hundreds of dollars in quality, top-grade SF/F books and stories. The gatekeepers and the CHORFs and the TruFans have not yet gerrymandered the rules so that the “wrong” fans and the “wrong” voters are locked out of the convention. This might be the inevitable dividend of Sad Puppies — and the overdue peasant revolt against the snobs — but I hope that saner, less stuck-up heads at future Worldcon concoms will conclude that fresh blood and fresh faces is not only good for business, it’s also good for Fandom (caps) because Fandom will slowly return to reflecting the actual diversity of the fan world overall; versus a self-selected group of individuals who don’t like you, me, or any other “ordinary” fans who aren’t of proper fannish pedigree.

I want to end by citing something fan and author Michael Z. Williamson wrote brilliantly on his blog:

I’ve been an attendee, panelist, artist, author guest, special guest, guest of honor, filker, gopher, badger, I’ve run a dealer’s room. I’ve helped in the con suite while a special guest, because I was up early and they had vegetables they needed cut. What, not everyone takes their hand forged Japanese kitchen knives to a con in case of such an emergency?

Heck, back to my first WindyCon, the consuite needed a plastic drop cloth for the soda tub. I went to my car and got it. Then the needed double sided tape. I had that, too. Then they needed a screwdriver. Exasperated, I demanded their list of material needs, went to my trunk and got most of it-poster board, highlighter, scissors, more tape, bungee cords. I had trouble with the red marker. I only had black.

No one ever guessed it was my first con.

I was at X-con in Milwaukee the year we shared the hotel with an NBA reunion, a Baptist youth group, a bowling convention and the Secret Service preparing for Gorby’s visit. Hilarity ensued.

But, you guessed it, per certain elements, I am “not a real fan.”

Sing it, Mike. The gatekeepers can’t be inclusive, while inventing all sorts of excuses why they — sitting upon their pedestals of superior taste and gnostic knowledge — get to exclude somebody. Either because the new person has the wrong politics, or the wrong tastes, or the wrong friends, or maybe they’re a pro who publishes with the wrong publisher and has the wrong peer group; a peer group that doesn’t ingratiate itself to CHORFs and snobs.

Frankly, I hope MidAmericon 2 and future Worldcons slowly turn their backs on the exclusive, CHORF-driven attitude: that nobody who isn’t a properly vetted, adopted, and indoctrinated member of CHORFdom doesn’t get to participate in the con (or the selection of the Hugo) because maybe some CHORFs will be butthurt about it.

Stay tuned, folks. The peasant revolt will be televised.