In January of 2013, science fiction / fantasy author Larry Correia posted a blog post about “How to get Correia nominated for a Hugo.” It was a post about ethics within voting for the Hugo Awards for World Science Fiction Society Achievement. It was essentially Correia and a handful of authors versus an established Leftist front within Science fiction. From that one post, Correia and his allies have started what would become the movement that is now known as Sad Puppies. It has led to a liberal backlash that has them all spinning out of control.
If you’ve followed the history of the Hugo Awards for the past 25 years, you may see a bit of a pattern, especially if you just look at their best novel category. Most of the names are complete nobodies. Sure, you can pick out a name here and there, but those are the exceptions. George RR Martin got a single nomination. JK Rowling won a Hugo once, and was nominated another time, and was never allowed on the slate ever again. After all, Rowling’s work didn’t have the proper message.
Other gaps are blindingly obvious, especially if you follow science fiction as a rule. For example, Baen Books is possibly the biggest name in SF right now. Many of their people are constant and consistent bestsellers. And yet, since 1990, only two of their authors were ever allowed on the slate of Hugo nominations: Lois McMasters Bujold and Elizabeth Moon.
There is no David Weber, whose Honor Harrington franchise is over 25 years old, and was compared to Horatio Hornblower meets Star Wars early on. There is no Timothy Zahn, the man who is single-handedly responsible for resurrecting Star Wars in the early 90s with his Heir to the Empire trilogy. There is no John Ringo, who is a one-man writing machine, whose output is a book a week when he’s feeling lazy. In the 16 years he’s been writing, Ringo’s been responsible for 40 books, including thrillers, science fiction, an epic on par with Gone with the Wind, and fantasy … and has never even been offered a Hugo.
Who have been the nominees lately? People who are friends with the former President of the SFWA, John Scalzi, A race-baiter named Jemisin. Someone named Mira Grant four times in five years (still hasn’t won). George RR Martin (never won). In 2009, they had Gaiman, Cory Doctorow, Neal Stephenson and John Scalzi, but that’s at least a lineup of I’ve heard of. Oh, but the entire Wheel of Time saga was nominated for best book last year. It lost to someone named Ann Leckie, for a debut novel called Ancillary Justice, with a great big blurb on the front cover … from John Scalzi.
Yes, it’s been a bit of a theme. Baen is, at best, an apolitical publisher – apolitical in that they don’t have a particular ideological bent. They’ll publish Eric Flint, a self-proclaimed, card-carrying communist, John Ringo, who’s a bit of a libertarian at times, and Zahn and Weber, who are ministers with their churches, and can be seen as a bit to the right. And Larry Correia may or may not own enough guns to go to war with Panama by himself – we could call him right wing. They also publish David Drake and Tom Kratman – who are also bestsellers.
Also, Baen has been the target of Tor Books, where major authors were dismissed as sexist. The owners of Tor happen to support the Hugos.
Meanwhile, over at the Science Fiction Writers of America, former President John Scalzi and company were waging an internal purge of their membership. This is a full-on, Stalin-level purge. Heck, even former members of the SFWA have come out against their lock-step, utterly insane behavior — writers such as Sarah Hoyt have highlighted this. Even current members are protesting some of the more deranged moves — people like Harlan Ellison, David Gerrold, Mercedes Lackey, Jack McDevitt, Larry Niven, Mike Resnick, Harry Turtledove, and Gene Wolfe. And let’s face it, when Harlan Ellison is calling you a schmuck because you’re too far left, you’re probably a schmuck. You know the SFWA has gone too far when even the New Statesman thinks they’re leftist schmucks.
This is about as bad as the Oscars, where only the prestigious and elite of Hollywood’s most pretentious can even be bothered getting a nomination. Only this time the clique is smaller, and even more vicious. It was less SFWA and more STFU.
So, despite the long march towards leftism in professional SF, every one of the people involved with SFWA and the Hugos insists that, the readers want this! And if they don’t, they’ll make the readers want it.
The purge of SFWA happened last year. One of the Tor hatchet jobs happened in 2012. Did something interesting happen?
Well, last year, Larry Correia, of Baen, was nominated for his book Warbound. While it is an awesome piece of fiction, is Correia’s work such a better piece of fiction that he’s the first man to break the Baen ceiling of the Hugos? Yes and no. The answer is Sad Puppies.
Three years ago, Larry Correia dismissed the Hugos as like the Oscars, something for a Liberal elite to award their friends with at World Con. He was told no, the Hugos represent all of Science Fiction.
Larry said: You want to lay money on that?
And thus, Sad Puppies was born to bring balance to the force …at least the Hugos.
The movement is officially titled “Sad Puppies Save the Children Campaign” – making fun of leftist causes– but “Sad Puppies” will do (“Because boring message fiction is the leading cause of Puppy Related Sadness”). Correia’s stated goal is to promote good SF – books that are fun, enjoyable, and not necessarily approved by the “correct” people. He has been joined by Brad Torgenson, and Vox Day (sort of, Vox’s version is “Rabid Puppies”).
Sad Puppies is simple. The supporting members have their fans vote for who they want in the fifteen Hugo categories. From there, the categories are assembled much like the Hugos themselves. The top winners are compiled as nominees. The fans who vote the Hugos will vote from those nominees.
Simple, right? What could go wrong?
The backlash has been insane. Whether or not Tor’s attack pieces and the SFWA’s purge are part of it is a matter of opinion. But even if they’re not overreactions to Sad Puppies, the personal attacks are.
The short version is that the backlash consists of liberals shrieking like gelded hyenas, and the pro-Puppy folk laughing. Except when Larry Correia gets harassing phone calls and death threats.
Since this began, the Sad Puppy people have undergone accusations of being evil white men. It’s what makes “racists” of Theodore Beale / Vox Day (though he’s Native American), or Larry Correia (who’s Portuguese). It makes misogynists out of Sarah Hoyt (from Portugal) or Cedar Sanderson … and no, they are NOT transgender, they were born women, and remain women.
In short: The usual cries of liberals are heard every time Sad Puppies is mentioned. Racist, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, GamerGate! (GamerGate, for those of you who don’t know, started with corruption in gaming journalism. Liberals claim that it’s about how video games are all racist, misogynistic, etc).
You’ve even had people like K. Tempest Bradford come out and insist that one cannot be a fan of SF unless you’re the correct kind of reader, enjoying the correct kind of SF by authors of the correct gender and/or ethnicity.
Then, less than a month before the Hugo nominations were posted, a co-owner of Tor Books insists that the Hugos only represent the people who attend World Con. But, to quote the TV show Babylon 5: The avalanche has already started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote.
And then, this year, the Hugo award nominations came out, and look very much like the Sad Puppies slate. Even better, right-wing writer Vox Day got on, and he wasn’t even part of Sad Puppies.
You can imagine what the response from the Hugos have been.
John Scalzi went on his page and roared about campaigning to “No Award” the Hugos over Sad Puppies. And he’s literally claiming that “we shouldn’t allow those who don’t like us to campaign so blatantly.”
The pinnacle of this stupidity came with an Entertainment Weekly article, headlined: “Hugo Award nominations fall victim to misogynistic, racist voting campaign.” It was an article written without talking to a single Sad Puppy supporter.
Even better, seven other news outlets published nearly the exact same article. At the same time. Either these folks are plugged into one hell of a zeitgeist, or there may be some colluding going on.
They have since changed the headline.
Let us ignore that the new Hugo slate includes women and Hispanics. Let us ignore that one of the nominees, Jim Butcher, is as politically neutral as they come, and he’s not a member of Sad Puppies. Let us, instead, focus on how many of them are lawyers. Let us focus on how much EW has slandered a whole cross section of fandom.
Oh, and get this correction in EW.
CORRECTION: After misinterpreting reports in other news publications, EW published an unfair and inaccurate depiction of the Sad Puppies voting slate, which does, in fact, include many women and writers of color. As Sad Puppies’ Brad Torgerson explained to EW, the slate includes both women and non-caucasian writers, including Rajnar Vajra, Larry Correia, Annie Bellet, Kary English, Toni Weisskopf, Ann Sowards, Megan Gray, Sheila Gilbert, Jennifer Brozek, Cedar Sanderson, and Amanda Green.
What does that mean? That means that the author, one Isabella Biedenharn, didn’t talk to anyone on the Puppy side. In the tradition of Rolling Stone, one need not complicate a strong narrative with facts.
However, we can all take some advice from Sad Puppies. It took a few years (this is Sad Puppies 3, after all), but it has taken over. The only thing that the Hugo people can do is howl and rave, and generally carry on cranky. Correia and Co. simply rallied the troops to the polls, and got out the vote. It took time, but they eventually won. But, people had to show up.
In short: the culture wars are winnable. A little sarcasm, a little reason, and the war is over. The left is nothing by a pile of steaming, impotent rage.
In Graham Greene’s short story, A Hint of An Explanation, he noted that evil always overreaches, and breaks its own hands. The overreach is palpable at this point.
John Scalzi has gone on his twitter account and accused Correia of starting Sad Puppies in order to get himself a Hugo.
That would be a valid point … if Correia hadn’t refused accepting his Hugo nomination.
To top it off, Puppy supporter Brad Torgersen posted a picture of his family on twitter, to show that he’s human. After that, someone called his wife (who happens to be black) a “human shield.”