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Enough, Part I

Monday, July 20th, 2015 | Posted by David B. Coe

Dead Man's Reach-smallFor weeks now, I have debated back and forth about this post, and even as I write it and contemplate submitting it to Black Gate, I remain ambivalent about whether or not I should. I have kept silent throughout the spring and summer, watching as the genre I love tears itself apart, and I haven’t known what to do. I still don’t.

I have two original, novel-length releases coming this summer. Dead Man’s Reach, due out on July 21, is the fourth book in my Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy series I write for Tor Books under the name D.B. Jackson. His Father’s Eyes, which drops on August 4, is the second book in The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy that I write for Baen Books under my own name, David B. Coe.

Put another way, I have two books coming out this summer from different publishers, in different series, under different names. And, I should add, I’m thrilled by this. As any author writing these days knows, busy is good; I’m happy to say that I’m as busy as I’ve ever been.

But I am writing for Tor and Baen, the two houses at the center of the Sad/Rabid Puppy controversy that has ravaged science fiction and fantasy over the past several months. I knew going in to my contract with Baen (the most recent book contract I’ve signed) that I might be putting myself in an awkward position. I’ve been writing for Tor for nearly twenty years, covering four series and a total of sixteen novels. I’m new to Baen, but have known the editors there for years, and was delighted when presented with the chance to work with them. I can speak to the strengths of both houses, and have done so recently.

Politically, I’m more in tune with the culture at Tor than the one at Baen. But in that regard I join a large group of wonderful, left-leaning writers who publish with Baen, including, among others, Eric Flint, Mercedes Lackey, and Steve Miller and Sharon Lee. The folks at Baen treat all of their writers well, and as long as we meet our deadlines, write good books, and promote the hell out of them, they don’t give a damn about our politics. Which is precisely as it should be. And Tor, which publishes John Wright as well as John Scalzi, does exactly the same.

His Father's Eyes-smallStill, writing for both publishers sometimes feels a bit like ghosting for Bill O’Reilly and Bernie Sanders at the same time. And as a writer for both Tor and Baen, I have been reluctant to take sides publicly in this fight. Let me rephrase that to be more accurate: I have been afraid to take sides. I don’t want blowback from either camp. But I also am tired of keeping silent, and anyone who knows me knows that I seldom shy from offering an opinion.

I will not address any of the personal issues that have come up in the back and forth over the Hugos nomination fight. I am not interested in rekindling a flame war that has already done too much damage. I will address issues regarding the Hugos. I understand that people on both sides will say that this matter is about far more than “just awards,” but the fact is the Hugos have been the battleground on which this fight has been waged.

I’ve read Hugo winners — not all of them, but many — going back close to twenty years. I’ve found some to be amazing, even mind-expanding, and I’ve felt that some were no better or worse than other novels I’ve read (or even written). Awards like the Hugo recognize quality, but they don’t define it. They are one form of recognition, of acknowledgment, but they are by no means the final arbiter of a novel’s (or a story’s) success or failure.

Reading a book is a subjective endeavor. We all bring different emotions and intellect to the books we read, and our own perceptions color the reading experience nearly as much as the author’s words. My wife and I have read books and experienced them in entirely different ways. I might think one is the best thing I’ve read in years; she might hate it.

Which one of us is right? What do our opinions say about the book? To which the answers are “Neither and both,” and “Probably nothing at all.” Reading is, to my mind, an interactive experience between author and reader. Every person who reads a novel is going to have a different experience with that story, with those characters, in that setting. Don’t believe me? Spend a little time reading Amazon reviews…

Spell Blind-smallMy point is this: Awards have their place. And just as music has the Grammys, the Billboards, the AMAs, and acting has the Oscars, the Golden Globes, the SAGs, we in publishing have ours. But they are not at all what our industry ought to be about. That reader-author dialectic I was just discussing — that’s our bread and butter. We authors reach every reader in a slightly different manner. Some people we entertain, some we tick off, some we touch in ways both profound and unexpected. And every now and then, we change a life forever. Each connection is unique. The sum of them can be overwhelmingly powerful.  That’s what makes the written word so amazing, so transcendent. That is, I guarantee you, what drew 99% of the writers you’ve heard of into the business in the first place.

We create characters, settings, narratives. We tell stories for a living, because we love making shit up. We love it so much that we just have to do it. And then we have to run out and tell people: “Hey, look what I did! Look what I’ve created! You REALLY need to read this!”

We, the professionals in speculative fiction, are allowing a controversy over awards to hurt this genre we adore, and to taint an institution that has been part of science fiction and fantasy for sixty years. Yes, again, I understand that to those steeped in the details of the fight, it’s about deeper issues. But to the outside world, it appears as though we’re fighting over awards. The more nuanced issues are lost on much of the general public. As a result, we who are blessed with the opportunity to write stories for a living, are creating a narrative that makes all of us look foolish and petty and small.

And it’s time to stop.

I’ll be back in two weeks time to say a bit more about this. In the meantime, the comments are open. Feel free to savage me.


David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the award-winning author of eighteen fantasy novels. Under the name D.B. Jackson, he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and, the newest volume, Dead Man’s Reach, which will be released tomorrow, July 21. Under his own name, he writes The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books. The first volume, Spell Blind, debuted in January 2015. The newest book in the series, His Father’s Eyes, comes out on August 4. He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

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20 Comments »

  1. […] Today on the 2015 Summer-of-Two-Releases Virtual Tour, I am posting over at Black Gate Magazine. This is a different sort of post for me. I have, thus far, avoided any comment on the Sad/Rabid Puppies-Hugo controversy, believing that I would be best off staying out of it. I write for both Tor Books and Baen Books, two publishers at the center of the matter, and I didn’t want to draw fire from either side. In this post, though, I break my silence. It’s time we recognized that we have far more in common with one another than not. It’s time for an end to this mess. Read the post here. […]

    Pingback by A Plea For Calm, Today on the Blog Tour | David B. Coe, Author of Fantasy - July 20, 2015 7:29 pm

  2. Dear Mr. Coe,

    Thank you for speaking up on the Puppies feud that has been roiling the waters of sf/f fandom for months. It is important for us to recognize that we have more in common than in difference, as demonstrated by writers such as yourself who publish with houses that have, for whatever reason, become emblematic of the contentions that split us.
    I will note that I am a fan of your Thieftaker books, which I have recommended to my monthly sf/f reading group. So, I guess I need to track down your Justis Fearsson books. Hope that your book tour goes well and that you do not attract any invective for your considered and courteous position.

    Comment by Eugene R. - July 20, 2015 9:41 pm

  3. Thanks very much for the kind reply, Eugene. I hope and expect that many feel as we do. We don’t have to agree with one another on every point. But I do hope we can end the demonizing and the invective. I’m grateful to you for the good wishes, and I hope you enjoy the new Thieftaker novel and the Fearsson books.

    Comment by David B. Coe - July 20, 2015 9:48 pm

  4. @David: I’m a college English professor, David, at a 4-year liberal arts university. Mostly I end up teaching composition and basic literature to kids who are primarily first-generation college students, and many who are expecting to be drafted into the NFL or the NBA (in the 165-year history of the school, exactly 0 students – that’s ‘z-e-r-o’ – have become pro athletes). Four times in the last 11 years, I’ve had a chance to teach a science fiction class, the most recent this past spring, and we’ve always begun with 2 novels by H. G. Wells – ‘The Time Machine’ and ‘The War of the Worlds’ – and worked up through the 20th century, ending, usually, with Joe Haldeman’s ‘The Forever War’ and William Gibson’s ‘Neuromancer.’ We did 8 novels and 2 anthologies the first three times, but this year I added a 3rd anthology and tacked on China Mieville’s ‘Embassytown’ and Ann Leckie’s ‘Ancillary Justice.’ Ambitious? Abso-frickin’-lutely, but my kids, God love ‘em, read it ALL (except ‘Embassytown’: we ran out of time). I’d read all the books on my reading list, except the Leckie novel, which I’d added because I wanted the class to get a chance to see what the most recent Hugo winner for best novel was all about. The reaction was mixed; I think I liked the book less than my students (it was a stylistic thing for me). Halfway through the semester, I introduced the controversy over the 2014 and 2015 Hugo awards to the class, and it became a topic of interest for the next 8 weeks. (I’ve also posted some of my own responses here at Black Gate to many of the various comments I’d read here.) Most of my students were unaware of the brouhaha, but they were certainly interested, because they could all tell how disturbed I was by the vehemence of some of the more contentious opinions, found not only here at Black Gate, but at numerous other blogs and websites (I encouraged my students to visit these sites for themselves). As a teacher, I certainly have opinions as to what constitutes good literature and what is merely dreck; more than once, my students heard me reference Theodore Sturgeon and his comment that “90% of science fiction is crap.” But my students also understood that the reading list I’d given them was based on MY belief in the overall merits of the titles I’d listed as required reading; at the same time, I warned them that some of the stuff they’d be reading might seem dated (we read almost all of “The Science Fiction Hall of Fame”), or just too peculiar (their reaction to some of the assigned stories from Ellison’s “Dangerous Visions”). I also wanted to be certain that they knew they could disagree with my evaluations of the works assigned, even passionately so, and it wouldn’t affect their grades; their occasional tendency to dislike something I absolutely loved was both invigorating and challenging (we read Phil Dick’s “Do Androids Dream…” and then watched “Bladerunner,” which some of the kids thoroughly trashed). What I tried very hard to get across was that there was room for EVERYONE to like and/or dislike whatever we were discussing, and that their opinions were going to be given a chance to be heard, and heard with respect, and that we could agree to disagree as often as necessary. My own 21-year-old daughter tended to be the most contentious; I love Zelazny’s “A Rose for Ecclesiastes” and she LOATHED it. And her reasoning was sound and well thought out. I’m 100% certain that their understanding of the freedom they had to speak their minds was what made the class work as well as it did; it was the most exciting class I’ve ever taught in my 30-year career, and only once did the class end at the allotted time; every other class ended 15-20 minutes beyond the usual 75 minutes. How often I’ve wished I could have had some of the more vocal proponents on both sides of the Hugo awards controversy show up in class and give us – and them — a chance to argue out something that might have left both sides (or however many sides there actually are) able to come to some sort of mutual respect for each other’s viewpoint. It’s a damned shame that so much good work – and, yes, some rather mediocre work – got the wrong kind of attention throughout this trainwreck of an issue, and it’s equally distressing that some very good writers (and, again, some mediocre ones) were dragged into the melee. As other posters have indicated, the Hugos may be damaged permanently, which some have said may be a good thing (I disagree), but my greatest fear is that some very good writers and some very loyal readers will have been scared away from the field, or so disgusted by the viciousness of some of the rhetoric, on BOTH sides, that SF/F will never be able to recover.
    I’ve always insisted, in my basic lit class, that students begin a study of literature with the understanding that an author and his/her work are most often two very separate entities; Thomas Harris may have created Hannibal Lecter, but that doesn’t make Harris a serial-killing cannibal. A writer’s political stance may not necessarily be obvious in his/her writing, and while some writers may indeed have a political agenda, what matters MOST is the story that’s being told. Did the publisher of “American Psycho” expect to pander to sociopathic serial murderers more than any other demographic segment of the reading public? Should YOU, David, have to worry about the political leanings of YOUR publisher(s)? If you’re a competent writer, and your stories have literary merit, you’ll find a publisher, regardless of that house’s politics. One of the points I made in a previous post was that several of the stories garnering Hugo nominations for the 2014 awards would NOT have fared well when compared to some of the Hugo winners from the “SF Hall of Fame” collection; by that same token, there are a couple of stinkers in the anthology that might not have made it in today’s market. I’d hazard a guess that literary quality can sometimes improve with age, but also turn flat and sour. The basic difference between the Hugo nominations and awards of today and those of the past is VOLUME: there’s just so much available today that no one person can read enough of the really good stuff without missing stuff that might be even better (a point I’ve seen frequently made, here and elsewhere). I’d hate to see the Hugos trashed for good, but I think all of us, on all sides of the controversy, have to understand that it’s no longer possible for the awards to take into consideration ALL of the truly deserving candidates; much will be missed, and many people will be seriously hurt and/or disappointed. But I do believe that there is one segment of the SF/F reading public that will always come away a winner: that portion of the SF/F audience that is still able to be teased and tickled and awed and overwhelmed, and overcome, by that ‘sense of wonder’ that drives us all to keep picking up the books and magazines (and Kindles and Notebooks and iPads and tablets) that help make our everyday lives more tolerable.

    Comment by smitty59 - July 20, 2015 10:46 pm

  5. Smitty, you make me wish I were back in the classroom. As much as I like the freedom that comes with individually negotiated one-on-one teaching gigs, there is something magical about a community of learners working together.

    Comment by Sarah Avery - July 20, 2015 11:00 pm

  6. I feel very blessed, Sarah; I had that magic this past semester, and it was exquisitely wonderful.

    Comment by smitty59 - July 20, 2015 11:04 pm

  7. David, thank you for making Black Gate the place you posted this. Especially for discussions of this year’s Hugo controversy, I rarely look elsewhere. Generally speaking, the conversations here have been earnest shared efforts to balance hope that we can mend our community with explanations on all sides of just what the various parties are upset about. We sometimes get testy with each other, but we also occasionally find our thinking about one point or another actually changes. I’m a lefty feminist, and would probably meet some definitions of a social justice warrior, but one of our resident Sad Puppies made such a painstaking good faith effort to listen to positions not his own, I decided to give as good as I was getting. And to my surprise, when he made his case for why the Sad faction shouldn’t be lumped with the Rabid faction, his evidence and argument persuaded me.

    If we had stopped at agreeing to disagree, I would have held onto several inaccurate beliefs about what our points of disagreement actually were. There’s plenty we still disagree about, but I’m glad the conversation has gone on as long as it has. And I think that, in the places where people on both sides have a reasonable expectation that they’ll be heard if they explain their reasoning with courtesy, it might be really important not to stop talking.

    But if you mean it’s time to stop shouting, yeah, I’m ready for the shouting part to be over, too.

    Comment by Sarah Avery - July 20, 2015 11:34 pm

  8. Smitty, thanks for the comment and your passion. And thanks as well for teaching new generations about the stories that form the foundation of our genre. I think that as long as we keep sight of the narrative elements — character, plot, setting, prose — we can agree to disagree about the political stuff. We are writers before anything else — that’s kind of my point. Again, thank you.

    Sarah, yes, I’m not trying to say “Stop talking about it.” That’s not my place. And more to the point you make, reasonable and respectful conversation is good for all of us and good for the genre. But the demonizing, the insults, the labeling and rage and hate — those things geti n the way of rational debate, and they hurt us all. That’s what has to stop. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

    Comment by David B. Coe - July 20, 2015 11:42 pm

  9. Speaking with my fan hat on; my wife and I juggled money and kids to be at last year’s World Con. It was, if not a once in a lifetime experience, certainly a one off in this phase of our lives. Had the experience been blighted by Puppygate, I would have been… disappointed.

    Comment by M Harold Page - July 21, 2015 6:03 am

  10. Harold, I totally get that. I think a lot of people attending this year’s convention do so with some trepidation. Here’s hoping that the con flourishes in spite of the controversy.

    Comment by David B. Coe - July 21, 2015 12:38 pm

  11. If I understand them, the Sad Puppies people feel that awards have become biased, and that they’re restoring balance. Telling them to stop fighting about awards is, from their point of view, telling them to shut up and keep receiving the unjust treatment they’ve been taking quietly for years. And I can see where they’re coming from. Are they right? I don’t know. Personally, I’ve come to find their vituperative mob-gathering wearisome and off-putting, to say the least. But I guess I’m one of those people who will say that this is about deeper issues than awards, and that it’s not going to go away unless those issues are addressed.

    I’m someone who tends to lean right on many (not all) issues, though, like the Ents, I’m not altogether on anyone’s side, because no one is altogether on my side. But because of the current polarizing political climate, I find that that only means that every group will inevitably class me with the Others. I keep up with Black Gate because, as Sarah said, it does successfully resist being captured by politics, even when controversial topics like Sad Puppies are discussed. It’s a true forum, where different viewpoints can get hashed out. But that hasn’t been my experience with the rest of the industry.

    My first story to gain traction, and my only story to get a Recommended from Lois Tilton and make the annual Locus reading list, is about an intersex transvestite. Maybe it’s just that good a story. But when my all my subsequent stories (which don’t involve intersex transvestites) get treated with condescension, disdain, and discomfort, it makes me wonder.

    I’m not trying to single out Locus here. A reviewer at Tor.com hinted, without really saying it outright, that another story of mine might be a misogynist revenge fantasy. For professional reasons, I take such a charge seriously. This is a story that happened to be paired with (and unfavorably compared to) one by Benjanun Sriduangkaew, who has gained a certain amount of notoriety of late, but who also, FWIW, made a very nice comment about my story. Perhaps that’s all neither here nor there. But you see? As an emerging author, I’m living in this atmosphere of paranoia, where I feel like I have to be careful about what I say or who I associate with, if I want my stories to continue getting read. It’s like I’m always on probation, so that I can be dismissed quickly once I show my true colors. Then again, maybe I’m projecting. I really don’t know.

    So when something like John C. Wright’s Space Princess Movement comes along, it makes me all excited. A movement to emphasize story-telling as story-telling, and to bring wonder and imagination back to science fiction? Sure, I’m down with that. I think, here I’ve finally found My People. But then I become persona non grata for criticizing some of the ideas I encounter among adherents, e.g., that abstract art is a left-wing conspiracy of knaves and fools to make man call the ugly beautiful, or that where the country really went wrong was when emancipated slaves and women were allowed to vote. Even the people who don’t necessarily believe those things will treat you with suspicion when you criticize their confreres. To put it succinctly, you don’t have to be pro-Vox Day, but you do have to be anti-anti-Vox Day. And so I find myself on my own again.

    Sorry for the long comment. I guess something just struck a nerve.

    Comment by Raphael - July 21, 2015 1:28 pm

  12. Writers and publishers are in the entertainment business in my view. I don’t care what gender, race, political view, religion, or creed or whom or what you sleep with. I figure that is your business and none of mine. I think it is wise and professional for those in the entertainment business to keep those things to themselves because they risk losing their audience.

    It seems the new business model of advertising is to make product identification part of its marketing. Instead of a product commercial talking about how good the product is they, and many others have taken to making ads to appeal to a liberal segment of the population. The hope is to make people identify with the cause by buying the product. At the same time there are boycotts against businesses they think are conservative or who hold views contrary to what liberals approve of. Chick-A-Filet comes to mind. Still, this is their business plan and who am I to tell them how to manage their business? I don’t have to buy their products. I have options if I feel strongly opposed to what their cause is. But that courtesy is not extended to conservative businesses. I’ve seen coercive efforts to force businesses to obey the leftist will. They usually go for soft targets and they are never appeased. Welcome to the culture war.

    I think Tor is an unprofessional business. Not one but several editors have made the worst comments directed at readers and their writers. They seem to want to have us swallow their insults and still buy their products. Gallo’s “apology” was that she was sorry if being called a neo-Nazi, white supremacist etc hurt our feelings and not that she called us all one. Then in the same breath, Tor supporters shriek outrage at being called CHORFs and puppy kickers. Scalzi? Don’t get me started. Then you have a couple of Tor reps that can’t seem to keep their hands to themselves and a few more editors who say equally rude comments. I’ve had enough. I associate the Tor label with hate filled anti-social antics. They aren’t just anti social to everyone, they are anti social towards me. For what? Why exactly do I deserve to be called those vile things?

    The thing is that I go into burger joints and shops and they probably come from a bunch of different political groups, sobriety levels, religion, etc but they don’t give a wit who or what I am and neither do I. They are professional and treat everyone in their shop with respect. Why shouldn’t I expect that from Tor?

    I have liberal friends and family. They seem to be able to manage themselves without being venomous or hateful. I have no idea how many liberals have exchanged thoughts and opinions to me without stooping towards insults—probably thousands. Tolerance is a skillset that even a third grader can master. It is practiced by millions of workers worldwide. Why can’t Tor be civil?

    I feel very bad for you. Your hard work and your novel is trapped in a publishing house that doesn’t seem to mind insulting its reading public (or at least a third of it). They have made a successful marketing campaign to eliminate me as a customer. It has come at a cost. RS Belcher just wrote a book that I would love to have on my shelf. I just can’t bring myself to buy it. It would feel like licking the hand that beats me as if I were a whipped dog. It isn’t the author’s fault at all. In this life I have served my country for 23 years. In that time I’ve been shot at numerous times, beaten up a couple of times, and even stabbed once because I wore the uniform. I’ve been deployed away from home, friends, and family for at least 11 years. I lived beneath the poverty line for at least ten of those years too. Perhaps I sound petty to a lot of people but most of those that treated me poorly were liberals that thought and acted a lot like the Tor bunch. Who knows, maybe I have displaced anger. I might be wrong. I might be too stubborn to see it straight. I do know that Tor could make amends with fans like me easily but they don’t. I think they are too invested in their hatred to care. I will however do my best to buy one of your Baen books, Spell Blind looks pretty good.

    I think the Hugos will not be destroyed at all. In the long run I see this whole thing ending in a positive way. More people will be voting and that is a plus. Next year the Sad Puppies will have a more extensive list because it will have more people. There will probably be other lists out there and we can all probably compare them. Tor isn’t going to fold, they will probably double down with an even stronger SJW line while other authors go to other places. The ebook will continue to expand the market and there will be lots and lots to choose from. Tor and the left will continue to hate the right and the right will hate them all back. It will be a win-win for everyone—sorta. No one will be happy with most of the Hugo nominations and life will go on. Have faith.

    But from me to you Mr. Coe, I’m sorry that all this landed on your door step. I wish the culture war was civil. I think it is awful that some writers have been beaten up over this. It is just a freaking award at the end of the day of 1,800 opinions about what is the best SF/F. That is hardly all of fandom. I’ve heard just how egregious suggested lists are to the established left. I’ve heard how much they hate block voting—even though no one can explain how Vox Day has done anything wrong by getting several people to vote like him? He is guilty of what? Effective leadership? Rabid fandom? Not once ounce of leadership came from Tor. If they had a professional bone in their body they would have congratulated Vox Day and pretended nothing was unusual and just carried on. That would have taken the wind out of his sails. Instead they’ve resorted to name calling and the politics of division. They also have played the smear game and I’m sick of it. I don’t care if I sound petulant and the most mean spirited person on the planet. When Tor changes its actions I’ll change my stance. I will gladly buy books from them again when that happens. Until then, I’ll vote with my pocketbook and put my hard earned cash towards businesses and such that are Ape friendly. I’m not asking others to join me. I’m not campaigning for a boycott and neither are the Sad Puppies. I just can’t bring myself to buy Tor. It is like my hand is locked. It is like I would surrender everything to those that wish to exterminate me. I just can’t. It might be a mental problem or some kind of weird PTSD but I just can’t do it. Whatever it is it is pretty deep for me to figure out.

    Comment by Wild Ape - July 21, 2015 1:47 pm

  13. To Raphael and Wild Ape, I read both of your comments with interest and with some sympathy. I don’t agree with all you said, but I also don’t think that we are so far apart that civil conversation and a willingness to listen wouldn’t resolve many of our differences. I’m grateful to you both for taking the time to comment here.

    I think it goes without saying that there are bruised feelings on both sides of this, and I don’t want to delve into the issues and personalities here. There is no way to address everything, and only addressing some things will inevitably lead to more conflict.

    The one comment I will say is this: There is no need to feel sorry for me because I write for Tor (anymore than there is to feel sorry for me because I write for Baen). I have had a great experience at both houses. I like and respect the people I work with, and I am fortunate to be published by them. And I’m not simply saying this out of concern for my career; it’s the truth. Neither house is as monolithic in its politics as it may appear from the outside, which is one of the points I was trying to make in the post.

    Comment by David B. Coe - July 21, 2015 2:09 pm

  14. To WildApe,

    First, thank you for your service; I’m in uniform myself (well, one weekend a month/two weeks a year).

    While I usually disagree with you politically, you have the “soft touch” that allows an adult conversation to take place, which is helpful and encouraging. Something about your post made me see the bizarro, funhouse mirror that the whole puppy mess has become. Both sides are accusing the other side of very similar crimes.

    Your comment about chik-fil-A comes to mind. There’s a group out there called “One Million Moms” who routinely calls for boycotts of any TV show (and any who dare to advertise during it) that, in their view, promotes a sinful lifestyle… these usually revolve around sexual matters.

    So you get some people entrenched in this argument saying boycotts by One Million Moms is a righteous use of the free market economy to enforce morality and the American Way. But boycotting Chic-fil-a? That’s homofascist persecution, intimidation and an attempt to restrict free speech.

    Now I lean left, and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve seen plenty of screaming just flipping the script, and even gotten sucked into it. It’s easy to do when like minded individuals are screaming the same things, and allows bad logic to get carried way, way too far.

    Like the main post by David Coe, I’ve started feeling fatigue and am at a point that I don’t want to know. Unfortunately, “not knowing” is harder now with websites and twitter. But if I find I disagree with an author about something politically or socially, and I otherwise enjoy their work, I’ve taught myself the trick of shoving that down the memory hole.

    Corporations, like publishers, can be similarly problematic, so I feel your pain. The smart ones keep it all anonymous to that no one knows what it stands for or supports. No such luck with Tor. Maybe your military experience can help. Ever serve in a crappy unit? Just keep telling yourself “this too shall pass, and things will get better after the next change of command.”

    But then, corporations don’t have a standard three-year turnover, do they?

    Comment by thehessiangoeshome - July 21, 2015 4:10 pm

  15. @Rahael–You know, that transvestite story is probably risky. Still, someone is going to do a Tyrion someday with transvestites. Honestly if you would ask me what my first choice to read it would probably not be that. Then again, if you ask me about a dwarf character like Tyrion before I knew Tyrion I would have had the same disinterest. You might have an uphill battle but I wish you well and good luck. I do think you are on probation though. It is human nature to like people whom you like and those that agree with you. I’d keep my politics quiet if I were you.

    I am sorry to hear that you are getting grief from the Sad Puppies. On Correia’s site I see that happen but there are a few non Puppies that do okay on there. The mob gathering is draining, I get it from the left a lot but I’m also getting tired of it from the right on some hapless lefty that comes for genuine talk. Most of the mobs I’ve seen you can see that there isn’t any brain function going on, they just poke and jab and flame for the applause of the masses.

    There is something to say about this mobbing and flaming mentality though. I think people need it. They need to vent and roast their enemies but at the same time there needs to be a place where they need to debate and discuss. It is impossible to mix the two types of forums. I think Black Gate is truly neutral ground.

    I’ll agree with you about the Vox Day discussions. You can blast him if you want on some forums but not a single lefty has been to his blog site and gone toe to toe with him. If they did they would be a champion of the left. Instead, they debate Vox Day somewhere else and I might add, they do it poorly. Their logic loop is—-if you don’t disagree with Vox Day then you are a racist and nothing you say is valid. It is like Bill Cosby shaming some of the inner city attitudes calling each other names or wearing baggy pants or not working hard in school but being dismissed because he is an alleged rapist. They don’t want to debate Cosby. It is the same tactic of obfuscation.

    “I’m living in this atmosphere of paranoia, where I feel like I have to be careful about what I say or who I associate with, if I want my stories to continue getting read. It’s like I’m always on probation, so that I can be dismissed quickly once I show my true colors. Then again, maybe I’m projecting. I really don’t know.”

    This is terrible and I know of two other people who feel the same way on both sides of the aisle. It is completely ridiculous too. That is why I think the Sad Puppy movement is vital. Think about it. What if we are right? What if there is a bias? I think we are and if so that means that the ESSENCE of what science fiction and fantasy is becomes damaged. Sf/F is for escape and entertainment but it is also a unique kind of literature where we can talk about things that are taboo or hotbuttons or touchy issues. That is valuable. We certainly can’t have reasoned discussions about a huge swath of topics that should be discussed. Sad Puppies are important to at least raise the debate and to get a counter view.

    Anyways, good luck Raphael.

    Comment by Wild Ape - July 21, 2015 6:05 pm

  16. @thehessiangoeshome—-lol–yeah, nobody likes it when the tactic they employ is used against them. Both sides employ dirty pool and I think history shows that the dirty tactics stop once they are turned on the person employing them. For instance the Germans stopped using poison gas in WW1 once the Allies started using it. I’ve seen boycotts fail when there is a counter boycott made. I might sympathize with some of the Million Moms but I don’t approve of their tactics. That might be hypocritical from me who is not buying Tor books but I’m not asking that people join in. The truth is that there is no way that I can hurt the people who hurt me. It is frustrating. It would be nice if they felt enough pain that they would change their ways and just make amends. It would be nice for me anyway–lol.

    “But then, corporations don’t have a standard three-year turnover, do they?”

    That is a very good point. I should have thought of that. For those who are not in the military they may not understand what you mean. In the military orders are on 2-4 year terms so the most you will ever have to deal with a bad boss is about 3 years. What that does is it keeps the system integrity and prevents good old boy cliques from forming. Not so much in the private sector. The other thing it does is it provides relief for people who don’t get along.

    Anyway, weekend warrior or not, you wear the uniform and serve as far as I am concerned and that is aces in my book. I hope you watch your six and keep your powder dry.

    Comment by Wild Ape - July 21, 2015 6:39 pm

  17. Somehow, my feral simian friend, you fail to reassure me, but I do sincerely thank you for your well-meant words. I have an unfortunate tendency to wax hyperbolical on the Internet, and don’t wish to imply that I’ve received unduly harsh treatment from any quarter; but neither have I found a place to call home. I don’t go into politics on my blog or divulge where my sympathies lie on hot-button issues (and haven’t here, for that matter), because why bait anonymous trolls when I can use Facebook to flame my aunts, cousins, and high school friends? But as far as fiction goes I hope I’ll never avoid a topic I find full of dramatic interest or a situation with which I empathize because it’s “risky.”

    Comment by Raphael - July 21, 2015 11:45 pm

  18. “but not a single lefty has been to his blog site and gone toe to toe with him.”

    Phil Sandifer and R Scott Bakker come to mind.

    Comment by Baldanders - July 23, 2015 8:58 am

  19. […] it is a continuation of the call for cooler heads to prevail in the Hugos nomination kerfuffle that I began at Black Gate two weeks ago. You can find the new post […]

    Pingback by Plea For Calm Revisited, and an Interview with Justis Fearsson | D.B. Jackson - August 3, 2015 7:22 pm

  20. […] it is a continuation of the call for cooler heads to prevail in the Hugos nomination kerfuffle that I began at Black Gate two weeks ago. You can find the new post […]

    Pingback by Plea For Calm Revisited, and an Interview with Justis Fearsson | David B. Coe, Author of Fantasy - August 3, 2015 7:23 pm


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