Another Round of Puppy Saddening

I have written previously about the melt-down of the last Hugo Awards (here and here) so I don’t think I need recapitulate the whole multi-year saga. If you are seriously into science fiction, you already know, if you aren’t, it’ll merely be of minor academic interest. I keep coming back to as a writer with a mild interest in science fiction generally, and a slightly more intense one in how a particular progressive and insular mind-set manages to warp the heck out of book publishing and marketing the same to the masses, and because I have on-line acquaintances who are passionately interested in the matter. These interests tend to be infectious, I’ll have you know.

It had begun to seem in the last few years – especially to science fiction fans – that what was being published, marketed, and lauded by the critical luminaries in science fiction circles was actually not terribly readable. It was increasing precious, depressing, literary in the worst interpretation of the word (pretentious, pointless and prizing showy effects in the use of language over plot, characterization and possibility) and that the gender, skin color and sexual/political orientation of the author mattered more than being able to write a cracking good yarn. Too many books were, in Sarah Hoyt’s phrase, grey goo – the written-word equivalent of Filboid Studge.

And the powers that be in publishing and fandom seemed more and more inclined to push it, like crack dealers hanging around an urban high school, on the grounds of it being inclusive, and ground-breaking, and daring, and creative – while being at the same time, totally in ignorance of how groundbreaking, creative and inclusive that classic science fiction material actually had been in earlier decades, in cheerfully telling good stories – popular stories, chilling, daring, thought-provoking, world- and alternative society stories – well and interestingly wrought. It definitely seemed like a fix was in; judging from the fury among them aroused by the first three Sad Puppies efforts. The reception of Puppies 1-3 among the Worldcon fan cognoscenti, the traditional publishing world and the privileged among them ranged from the nastily dismissive to the epic temper tantrum. A cynic might conclude that the fix had long been in, and now the beneficiaries of the System were indignant at being called to account for it; I am a cynic myself, and therefore pretty certain of this being the case.

As it happens, the writers, bloggers and readers who got involved with the last three Sad Puppies episodes were infuriated by the 2015 awards, which featured a large block voting for ‘no award’ in those categories dominated by pro-Puppy nominations, regardless of their merit. There are people whom one should not work overtime to insult and alienate, for they do not give up readily, especially on having been maliciously, unjustly, and inaccurately maligned. And so, a Sad Puppies Four campaign was launched almost as soon as the dust had settled. This time it has been put together by Kate Paulk, and Sarah Hoyt, with the intent of transparently collecting up suggestions put forth by a broad range of aficionados of science fiction, for works to be nominated for the next Hugo Awards in various categories. Ripping good stories, well wrought, entertaining stories engagingly told, suggested on a Sad Puppies website specifically set up to that end by anyone wanting to put in a suggestion. Kate also put in some serious wordsmithing in explaining the categories. Those suggestions were assembled into lists of nominations for the various categories which were posted some weeks ago … to a moderate amount of caterwauling, mainly from those parties who moaned about Sad Puppies previous iterations. A handful of authors so nominated appear to have been so horrified by being associated in any way with Sad Puppies and a wider potential audience that they have demanded to be removed from the lists… which Kate has not done. She has just promised to helpfully annotate the lists with an asterisk next to the names of those authors who prefer, apparently, that their appeal be limited.

To some followers of the Sad Puppy Saga situation, the whole matter of a prestigious award in science fiction being bestowed by a diminishing number of Worldcon members seemed quite pointless. They pointed out in comments and blog-posts, that Worldcon is becoming a smaller and more inward-turning science fiction gathering. Why shouldn’t a larger fan-convention gathering work up their own awards, and let the Hugos no-award themselves out of existence. Behold, in this last week, a massive, popular and long-established convention of science fiction and gaming enthusiasts – Dragon-con – has come up with their own proposals, to recognize and award not just a wide range of books and authors, but movies, and games as well. That should prove … interesting to say the least.

12 thoughts on “Another Round of Puppy Saddening”

  1. Dragon-Con: Good for them. Generally the best solution to this sort of thing is to self organize into something better.

  2. I’ve always liked SF but have increasingly turned away from reading the genre. Romance novels set on distant planets don’t seem all too SciFi to me, they seem more like Harlequin Novels. When I do read I go to the back catalog and read classic SF.

    I like writers like James P. Hogan, who was simply awful with characterization and dialog but was pretty damn fine with engineering, science, and plot mechanics. That’s what I want from SCIENCE fiction. I don’t want human drama to come at the expense of SCIENCE.

    Hogan, Heinlein, Asimov, Clark, Niven, Pournelle, and other old writers were good, some though faltered, like Niven with his one of his Ringworld novels where 1/3 of the book seemed to revolve around inter-species sexual encounters on Ringworld. Snore.

    I had long ago noticed that there were fewer new releases appealing to me but I never put two and two together, that the industry had been subverted by SJW fanatics. I am so pleased that the Gamers fought back with their Gamegate protest. In the last few days I read a report on how some beloved game was reissued but this time the characters in the game are transsexuals telling their tales of woe and how the gaming public is furious that they spent their money to play a game and instead are subjected to pro-transsexual propaganda from the characters within the game.

    Liberalism is a cancer on society. Good for the Rabid and Sad Puppies for fighting back, good for GamerGate for fighting back. Good for Trump voters for fighting back.

  3. BTW, I still find the sci-fi from the 1940’s-1960’s the best. Not sure what that says about our civilization, but it’s probably not good.

  4. We’re not alone in that thought. From what I recall reading, SF sales have been on a downward slope for a long time because the style of SF has shifted to stories about love affairs with dragons (some story of this kind won a HUGO a few years back). The SF of the golden years was principally written for boys and men. There are now weirdo girls who are into writing and these misfits are writing what appeals to them but marketing through SF channels and their inclusion, in combination with the SJW gatekeepers, has drastically altered how SF is characterized. Lots of people have noticed this subversion.

  5. Actually, Tangoman – a fair amount of Golden Age SF was written by female writers – Andre Norton, CH Cherryh, Leigh Brackett … of course, they were not ostentatiously female, and concentrated on writing cracking good stories. Which is likely why they sort of slid below the radar …

    “I had long ago noticed that there were fewer new releases appealing to me but I never put two and two together, that the industry had been subverted by SJW fanatics.” Yep – there are so many readers who have said that, in the last few years, that it could be put to music and sung by a mighty chorus.

    I kind of sense that one more round of No Award for puppy-inspired Hugo nominations will pretty well finish it off in any but the esoteric and small circles, what with Dragon-Con picking up their own fan awards program.

  6. I read John C. Wright’s blog from time to time, and I know this topic rages over there, but I’d have to go way back to figure out what it all means, and really..

    My wife works right in the vicinity of the Dragoncon thing. They all get quite a hoot over the characters in line at Starbucks and the local restaurants. She thought the “Furries” were cute, until I told her to delve into the culture a bit. A couple minutes on the net…”oh that’s gross!” Not so cute now.

  7. I have a few Leigh Brackett books in my library. You beat me to the point – they wrote good stories. End of story. They being women is completely immaterial to the quality of the story.

    Will no one rid us of these SJWs?

  8. Haw! I’d never seen Entourage. Thanks. The Dragoncon theme comes up regularly hereabouts, it’s notorious founder lived (or may still) live locally, and of course the annual street show, downtown. I thought it was basically a Star Trek convention until a buddy informed that there was a huge sexual/fetish crossover crowd at the events.

  9. I got caught up in the sad puppies thing last year, just because. This year I can’t be bothered. I have no emotional attachment to the Hugos or Nebulas and found that even in the 90’s the stories that were awarded didn’t much appeal to me. These days there is so much on Amazon, self published or put out by small publishers, and at decent prices that the only reason to pay attention to an award is to find new or interesting writers in that vast ocean. The Amazon recommendations and reviews serve that purpose far better than the Hugos.

    > Romance novels

    With vampires. Judging by the sales figures, many of the most successful writers write Romances.

  10. “And the powers that be in publishing and fandom seemed more and more inclined to push it, like crack dealers hanging around an urban high school…”

    That’s an insult to crack dealers. They don’t have to bullyrag people into buying their product. People actually want it.

    A better comparison might be to a drug dealer who wants his clients to take, say, thorazine, or acomplia (used to treat obesity; withdrawn due to suicidal impulses) because he’s been reading Goethe and thinks suicidal depression like Werther is way cool.

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