Enough, Part II

Enough, Part II

Hugo Award Black GateA couple of weeks ago in this space, I waded into the Hugos nomination controversy with a statement about my own view of awards. Today, I wish to take that discussion in a somewhat different direction.

I’d like to begin today’s installment with an anecdote. Back in 1996, my wife and I were watching the Academy Awards, rooting for our favorite films to win. One of those films was Apollo 13, which was up for nine awards that night, including best visual effects.

The visual effects category was unusual that year, in that only two movies were nominated. And to us, Apollo 13 seemed to have it in the bag. In the introduction of the category the presenters talked about all that director Ron Howard had done to reproduce faithfully for the screen the launch and flight of an Apollo spacecraft, including the use of reduced gravity aircraft. It was impressive stuff. To top it off, the movie was up against Babe, a movie in which pigs and other barnyard animals had been made to look like they were really talking.

So what happened? The pig won. We were flabbergasted.

Looking back in later years, though, I understood what I hadn’t then. As good as the effects were for Apollo 13, there had been, in past years, other movies that recreated space flight, including zero gravity conditions, and did so convincingly. Apollo 13’s effects were amazing, but they didn’t change the game. On the other hand, no one had ever seen a pig talk quite like this.

The Academy wasn’t saying that Apollo 13’s effects were bad. They might not even have been saying that Babe’s effects were better. They were recognizing the innovation, as awards of this sort often do.

One of the biggest complaints about the Hugos coming from the Sad Puppy contingent over the past few years has been that there does not seem to be any room in the genre anymore for good old-fashioned science fiction and fantasy storytelling, that stories written in the style of the masters, those who first blazed a trail in speculative fiction, have been going unrecognized.

Babe Movie poster-smallThe problem with that argument is that it ignores the nature of awards. Many of the stories written by those who first began the Sad Puppy efforts several years back are quality work by skilled writers. And they do exactly what these authors set out to do: They recapture that good old-fashioned adventure story vibe. That’s great. The books sell well, and that’s great, too. Good for them.

But there are other stories being written by other writers, and these stories are also great, they’re also readable, they also sell well. But they have something else going for them, too. They’re innovative. They have at their cores protagonists representing races, genders, and orientations not previously featured in science fiction/fantasy novels. And those who vote to nominate and bestow awards are recognizing not only the quality of the writing, but also the courage of the innovation. As awards are wont to do.

Some readers object to these newer stories. They feel they’re too political, too closely tied to a social agenda with which they’re not comfortable. That’s fine. They don’t have to read those stories. Others, though, have taken this criticism a step further, complaining of a conspiracy among progressives to skew the Hugos and make them into a showcase for this social agenda. And that, right there, is where they lose me and any sympathy I might have had for their point of view.

Why? Because first of all, the idea of a “conspiracy” is ludicrous. We’re progressives! We’re genre geeks! And we’re writers, for God’s sake! Put together a Venn Diagram of the people least able to organize anything and those of us in that trio of groups form the golden shield, the ones who can’t organize shit! Give us charge of a conspiracy, and that plot is doomed to fail!

More to the point, and in all seriousness, writing a book does not give anyone some God-given right to an award or even a nomination for an award. Lots of terrific writers go their entire careers without winning anything. Lots who deserve to be published don’t even get that far. The fact that some books are nominated and others aren’t has nothing to do with “Social Justice Warriors” furtively packing ballot boxes, and everything to do with the different fandom groups in charge of WorldCons from year to year voting their preferences.

In the end, I return again to the point I made in my previous post. We are writers, blessed with the ability and opportunity to craft stories for a living. We should not be fighting over award ballots. I consider many of the people on both sides of this fight friends and respected colleagues. I like them. I like their work. I know from talking to them that they have a lot more in common with one another than this brouhaha would suggest. It is time for all of us to put away our knives, and take up our pens once more. No one is served by this fight, no one benefits from it, our readers least of all.

David B Coe author pic-smallDavid 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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Wild Ape

Yep, fandom is pretty big and vast. I’ll say that your analogy is pretty tight. A hard science, beautifully crafted masterpiece is swept aside by a kids movie. Sure, the talking pig was novel but this one is in the bargain bin like a lot of other Hugo award winners of the past while Apollo 13 is in most peoples DVD library.

Now we get romance stories passed off as brilliant work over real fantasies and real science fiction and with a single insignificant trope you too can make it science fiction and call it classic.

We can also look forward to what Tor will not win each and every year like when “Harry Potter” got stomped by “A Deepness in the Sky”. Everyone but Stephan King knows that JK Rowling only appeals to kiddlets and not the adults. She is only popular, not talented. Lucky for Rowling fans it was thrown a bone the following year when Tor only got two nominations and quit campaigning. Everyone can always hope that Tor will take a year off like they did in 2005.

Then there is the classic “Spin” which was when some evil dominionists did something. Who read the book? Most were reading “A Feast of Crows” because everyone knows that something about evil Christians is a new and novel never before tried thing. And then there is Tor’s “Rainbow’s End” by another author who most have never heard of. Then there was the year that John Scalzi actually didn’t get an award. Wow. That guy is like Robert Heinlein and Larry Niven and original ideas too.

“Others, though, have taken this criticism a step further, complaining of a conspiracy among progressives to skew the Hugos and make them into a showcase for this social agenda. And that, right there, is where they lose me and any sympathy I might have had for their point of view.”

Are you cool with what Jemisin is saying that race should be the first consideration? Or Tor.com demanding active participation in every single comic with radical sexual and racial standards being set on the industry? Are you hip with Emma Frost’s camel toe or Ms Marvel bodypaint while looking like a porn star ready to get it doggy style a good thing for kids? Just curious. Would you call thirteen major newspapers and seven international magazines throwing out a character assassination hit piece on the leaders of the Puppies? A coincidence? How could these papers that later retract their stories get things so wrong? Help me out David because you seem to be the one that believes I’m wearing a tinfoil hat and seeing black helicopters circling. You tell me that you have no sympathy at all for the Sad Puppies and use that as a starting point for conversation? Wow.

That is the problem with progressives David. They are a one size fits all mentality. I’m counting down the seconds before I’m accused of having a persecution complex or being name called some vile thing.

“More to the point, and in all seriousness, writing a book does not give anyone some God-given right to an award or even a nomination for an award. Lots of terrific writers go their entire careers without winning anything. Lots who deserve to be published don’t even get that far.”

We both agree. It doesn’t hurt to try. Each and every year the field of SF/F is too broad to get everything and a lot is going to get missed. What’s wrong with nominating stuff you like? That is a rhetorical question. God doesn’t get a vote for the Hugo as far as we know. That duty is left to us fallible mortals.

“The fact that some books are nominated and others aren’t has nothing to do with “Social Justice Warriors” furtively packing ballot boxes, and everything to do with the different fandom groups in charge of WorldCons from year to year voting their preferences.”

No, you are wrong and you should be agreeing with our side. SJWs separate the writer from fandom. In the words of John O’Neill this years “Riding the Red Horse” was the best military sci-fi anthology since the days of Jerry Pournelle. He also praised Jennifer Broznek and in the same breath voted no award. This was done by the establishment all over. Because the entire list was perceived as tainted the establishment is calling for a vote of no award. Think about how unfair that is to a writer and a fan especially those who have nothing to do with Vox Day. SJW is about dividing people not uniting them. GRRM begged people to vote like they would any other year and he was scorned for it.

Publishers are nearly all left leaning. After Lin Carter was replaced at DAW Conan stories and stories like Conan were extinct almost over night. Tor got publishing rights to Conan later on and began a series of Conan books that were dull, flat, and just plain mediocre. Tor couldn’t sell Conan even when Robert Jordan was writing stories because they made him change his characters, story, and setting to Conan instead. Later on he went on to make the Wheel of Time series which, next to Game of Thrones, might be the most popular sword and sorcery story of all time. Tor can’t sell Conan is like not being able to pour piss from a boot with the directions written on the bottom. But they managed to bungle that too along with military sci-fi which many still hunger for. Lucky for fans the eReaders came out and not the genres are back and charging ahead. Meanwhile book sales are falling apart with major publishing houses. Conspiracy? Maybe, I don’t know. Incompetence? Oh yeah. When you have millions of people watching science fiction and three channels dedicated to science fiction but you see progressive sci fi magazines and publishing houses tanking—well, if I were a betting man I’d say they could sell water to a thirsty man in the desert.

All those other points you made about awards are spot on. Nobody is ever going to be satisfied because the system is too clunky. The best bet is to go with what you like and get others to read it and like it too—not pout because your fairies in the toxic waste dump didn’t get in this year and vote no award. That means that it is anyone’s game every year. You can’t have a hissy fit every time Vox Day says something or promotes something. That is just plain silly. It is best to promote good works and read and write what you like. The side of chicken @#(*&^$ is the one that separates the writer from the fan with typical SJW politics. And when you say conspiracy theories, that is really just marginalizing people in order to dismiss real issues.

John ONeill

> In the words of John O’Neill this years “Riding the Red Horse” was the best military sci-fi anthology since the days of Jerry Pournelle.


If you’ll allow me one minor correction… it was bruce99999999 who said:

> Riding the Red Horse is the first great mil-sf anthology since Jerry Pournelle tapered off back in the 90′s.

I have no opinion on RIDING THE RED HORSE. I haven’t read it, and I’m not likely to.

> He also praised Jennifer Broznek and in the same breath voted no award.

This is correct. I praised Jennifer for her fine editing instincts while she worked for Black Gate. However, I did not read any of of her anthologies last year, and can not comment on how deserving she is of a Hugo nomination. So I don’t think that’s in any way inconsistent with my voting No Award.

Wild Ape

“although it didn’t have a Howard Andrew Jones story, alas… though it did have a Robert E. Howard story”

I must have bought the copy of that had Howard Andrew Jones in it and in my “persecution complex” completely missed a REH story that I never read before. It might have been more accurate to “no vote” for Jennifer Broznek for your #1 slot and then vote No Award for the rest. That way you would not have negated a potentially good editor and still voted against Vox. How is it her fault that she got nominated? Why do you think that she was undeserving if you didn’t read what she did? How can you confirm that all who voted for her were Vox Day’s minions? The only no award I gave was for that graphic novel that was just a crude porno comic. It had decent art, the storyboarding was dull, the story was so bad that Debbie Does Dallas looked like a tightly written script. I gave them their due too. They didn’t measure up to Maus or the 300, or the Watchmen or other notable graphic novels hence no award.

Bruce was right about Riding the Red Horse. If what Dave says is right and I agree, popularity does not equate to a Hugo win. Novel ideas also do not equate to a win either. Like his analogy of Babe over Apollo 13, Riding the Red Horse was something never before seen. His entire anthology wasn’t just military sci-fi but an anthology of 4th generational warfare. I am someone who invested many years in warfare study. This book was brilliant. Now to many it might have been schlock or dumb because tastes vary as Mr. Coe said. Very few people who are experts do not understand or support 4th generation warfare theory. It truly pushed the envelope.

I think the point that is very important that David makes is that the writer should not be separated from the fan. In the awards however the nominations were swept—every year regardless of Puppy involvement, were done by a handful of people. It doesn’t take much to get a nomination. The weakness in the Hugo is that very few people vote for it. It represents a tiny atom of all of fandom. So the best thing for fandom is for more people to vote in the process, not, trying to punish slate voting. How do you explain the years that Dr. Who got four of five nominations? Or that Dr. Who has more Hugos and nominations that Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Babalon Five, and Falling Skies combined? Oh sorry, starting to sound like a dreaded conspiracy theorist. Perhaps there are a small but vocal number of Dr. Who fans out there.

The solution to all the block voting is more participation. Now, you can say whatever about the Puppies but there was attention drawn to the Hugos and there has been a record number of votes this year. Instead of two hundred votes which is easy to get, needing a thousand will be needed. That is how you fix it.

As it is the Hugos are just like Hollywood and members only at $50 a shot need only apply. Tor and Vox day thrive because it has a small population to manipulate. Once there is competition in the mix you will see the death blow to slates and to Tor winning each year. Tor will have to vie for a win just like they have to compete for shelf space at Barnes and Noble.

Allen Snyder

I’m not sure I agree with your change of mind–that is, I think Apollo 13 should have won for visual effects. OTOH, I also think Babe should have won for best picture.

I have since college named one film as my all-time favorite, and it’s only changed twice since college (which was a *long* time ago). That list: Blue Velvet, Babe, Donnie Darko. (And yes, I realize the genre transition from Blue Velvet–still a favorite–to Babe is stark, not to mention the age-appropriate transition.)

Still, the visual effects of Apollo 13 were all-encompassing, while the visual effects of Babe were a one-trick pony: A great trick, but still just one trick.

[I should add, there is some chance that Another Earth will replace Donnie Darko as my all-time favorite, or perhaps already has. I haven’t decided yet; may need to rewatch Donnie Darko.]

Wild Ape

“I’m not sure where you get your business info, but Tor is not tanking”

I’m getting it from Publisher’s Review which said:
Publishing conglomerates Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster are facing tough times this quarter as ebook sales fell and total profit dropped 5.6% at S&S and approximately 12% for RPH. The potential culprits? A lack of blockbuster books and low ebook sales.

“While ebooks sales are still dwarfed by paperback and hardback sales, publishers are now seeing even less revenue from their recently repriced bits. Now that many ebooks are selling well above the $9.99 price that was common early in the Kindle days,”

and Publisher’s Weekly which said:

“These falling percentages don’t seem like much — what’s 1 or 2 points in a billion-dollar market? But to publishers, they are a major threat. A number of outside influences are affecting their bottom line including Amazon‘s own publishing efforts, the rise of indie writers, and the slow but sure shrinking of the print market. The inflection point isn’t quite here yet but I’d expect it to hit in the next five years.”

Tanking. Where did you get your information at from Tor and Baen? How are they weathering this? You might want to tell Tor that so far they have lost four book sales from me. One of them was one of your books. I did buy your book from Baen however as I said I would earlier.

“Finally, for the record, I’m a progressive and a SJW. I’m proud to be both.”

Well, I might be an SJW too, but not the kind of SJW you would expect. I’m definitely not a progressive because I don’t believe in big governments. For me the bigger the government the less freedom you have. But no worries.

When you say: “Others, though, have taken this criticism a step further, complaining of a conspiracy among progressives to skew the Hugos and make them into a showcase for this social agenda.” That sounds to me like you are describing a conspiracy theory and when I interpret things like that I get riled because what follows is people start calling me names and calling me stupid. Okay, cool. You don’t buy that the industry is out to destroy my brand of fiction.

Here is what I am saying, I agree and I disagree with that premise. Businesses make business decisions. Printing books and making them ready is expensive work. So they have to make business decisions based on what they think they can sell. What often happens is they end up chasing a trend vice creating one. After all, something that is selling probably has a thirst behind it that can be filled. I think that can also explain why there are fewer and fewer books like the ones I read out there in the established publishing houses. It isn’t personal, it is their best guess at what might sell.

The problem is when you have a bunch of editors who like the same thing they end up competing for the same type of story or stories that are currently trending. So when it comes time for a Conan story you don’t have a Lin Carter on the board who says, “Hey print this cool Conan like story” or a military sci-fi guy saying, “Hey this one is a winner!” you end up with a Twilight knock off or a story with fairies in a toxic waste dump. Some of those stories are good too don’t get me wrong.

Look at the evidence and look at what is hurting publishing—–the indie market. Here you have a bunch of self published writers that they are competing with that are putting a dent in their sales. What do these guys write? They write stories that are trending who the publishers overlooked like another Conan like story. BV Larson sells a ton of his military sci-fi books. Look at how many writers the big companies are now recruiting from the indie world.

I have no doubt Baen is doing fine. They don’t have much competition and they have a pool of great writers. Tor is a big publishing house. I hate them because they call me names and then expect me to buy their books. I can tell that they are doing fine because they publish more and more books regularly and on time.

“If someone is making their living writing Military SF, or Fantasy, or Romance, or Media Tie-ins, or Gerbil Porn, more power to him/her. Writing is hard enough without those of us in the business badmouthing others.”

Dave, I say this with respect. I found out the hard way that playing nice gets you slammed by both sides. I can tell that my tone was off putting and I am sorry to have treated you poorly. But I agree with what you said about stories, to each his own. The trouble that I have is not with you. But respectfully, SJWs ARE a part of the problem. When you have people who are so fanatical about a cause that even underhanded tactics are okay to employ then there is a problem. I know you label yourself as an SJW but you don’t know what I mean by SJW. And yes, I have very little good to say about that type. People are angry at Vox Day for good reason. He is so fanatical about the control over publishing that he feels free to get a bunch of people to block vote in and ram through nominations. I get it. He also has vile things to say which are pretty damning and that I disagree with. Yet all day long people equate me to Vox Day. In the real world people of all stripes and creations are going to have to live together and Vox Day does not have the vision that I think will work. At the same time those on the other extreme do not have a healthy world view either nor any hope of securing a nice place to live.

I do appreciate people like you, even if you are a lefty, who try to meet in the middle. I appreciate that you want civility and not hostility. Please look past my punch drunk anger and filter my tone.

Apollo 13 got robbed but at least it had a shot. Hollywood made the selection, not the fans. At the same time the establishment had better get used to things being a little different with the Puppies around. The Hugo is voted on by anyone who can spend the $50 dollars (price hike). That means that if there are only a handful of voters these shinannigans will continue and Puppies will have lots to say. If there are tons of voters it means that both the establishment and the Puppies will have to do more talking and less in the shinannigan department. That is just human nature.

Anyway, I hope there is no hard feelings.

John ONeill

> “although it didn’t have a Howard Andrew Jones story, alas… though it did have a Robert E. Howard story”

Ape… you’re quoting a line from a completely different thread. That’s a quote from the comments section in our OTHER Hugo discussion:

> https://www.blackgate.com/2015/07/31/i-voted-for-the-hugos/#comment-104429

Please stop confusing my guest bloggers! 🙂


That’ll do David. That’ll do.

(someone had to say it)

Eugene R.

Mr. Coe,

An excellent point about the higher award-winning potential of innovative work, even if the novelty does not last.

Wild Ape,

An excellent point about which DVD, Apollo 13 or Babe, is likely to be on a person’s shelf. Awards, particularly those for innovative works, can be premature judgements. The second Hugo for Best Novel (1955) went to They’d Rather Be Right by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley. It is pretty much an historical footnote now. What else came out in 1954? How about A Mirror for Observers by Edgar Pangborn, which took the International Fantasy Award? Or the runner-up, Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement, one of the defining works of “hard” sf? So, Time may undo what mistakes we in haste do make.

Oh, and I am a member of the Green Party USA, so I guess I qualify for SJW status, too.


‘The pig won.’

Fine when the pig wins. Elections are always a crap shoot. Honest elections especially. As long as the best space movies are on the ballot and seen by people voting in SF awards- that’s as good as it humanly gets.

‘I haven’t read Riding the Red Horse and probably won’t.’

Not fine. Boycotting VD’s website is fine. Booing if he wins is fine. Connie Willis refusing to risk presenting VD an award is fine. But if not reading the best SF out there is progress, I am Marie Queen of Romania and I command you ignorant revolting peasants to read the best SF out there. Quit being ignorant!

John O Neill wrote in a previous post that Riding the Red Horse was said, by (gasp!) VD, to have no chance at being nominated without eevil block voting, but-

‘Now we’ll never know.’

Patterson’s definitive and excellent biography of Heinlein wasn’t backed by eevil, and not nominated. Niven’s The Goliath Stone , best libertarian SF this year and best hard SF this year, -chock-full of positive portrayals of ‘alternative’ sexuality (but crimethink, libertarians who take over the world and leave everyone alone) so it won’t be read by doubleplusgoodthinkers- wasn’t backed by those evil ones so not nominated. Niven and Benford’s Shipstar, second best hard SF this year and maybe best, taste varies, wasn’t backed by eevil and not nominated. When eevil missed, YOU were never going to nominate the best SF of the year, were you?
Check your crimethink. YOU proved VD right. YOU proved Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen and Sarah Hoyt and that crazy Army vet right. Enjoy your goodthink writers who don’t have the basic chops for SF in the tradition of Anderson, Heinlein, Niven, Pournelle, Zelazny. Antlike, you armor your house in dust.

PS- Still wish you’d done a left-liberal response to Riding the Red Horse). A good left-liberal SF anthology would contrast crimethinkably with Tor, so you flinch.
But I love Black Gate, so it’s all good. Thanks.

Eugene R.


Since the first volume of William Patterson’s biography of Robert Heinlein was nominated in 2012, but the second volume failed to be nominated in 2015, the logical conclusion is that the second nomination failed due to Rabid Puppy bloc voting. So, it was “eevil” itself that kept the Heinlein work off the Hugo ballot. But, it was published by Tor, so I suppose that it makes sense. Not to me, but it makes sense. (Apologies to Larry Storch.)

Robert Adam Gilmour

I can’t comment on the quality of either film but I’d be shocked if more people owned Apollo 13. It was big at the time and the box office success much bigger than Babe, but I think Babe probably has a bigger afterlife on tv and home video and probably more international.
Having said that, I just checked user ratings on the two films and Apollo 13 has a far greater quantity. Which I’m shocked about! I thought it was mostly forgotten.

People who would be called Social Justice Warriors are generally very against heavily sexualized depictions of Marvel/DC superheroes.

Wild Ape says “When you have millions of people watching science fiction and three channels dedicated to science fiction but you see progressive sci fi magazines and publishing houses tanking”

Isn’t that just film/television vs books in general? Horror film/tv does very well but aside from a few authors horror books are a niche.

Wild Ape

@Mr. Coe—I’m sure the boycott of Tor has no real or lasting impact. I don’t care. I’m not calling for a boycott nor are the Sad Puppies.

My own “boycott” is more based on disgust with the Tor editors. I might get over it, I might not. The truth is after a barrage of insults hurled my way I was told by many Irene Gallo supporters that I deserved to be called those things because Vox Day was my leader.

I know my own personal boycott with Tor sounds moon bat loony. I’m sure it isn’t rational. Let me tell you what her words and the cheering from her supporters cut me. A few years back I was once again in the desert doing my duty. I thankfully, was in operations and therefore no where near the danger that many faced. Once in a while we would get a donation of books which were like rain from heaven and in between the pages of a book, good or bad, for a bit we were far away and somewhere else and detached from the misery we were in. I had a bunk mate that read a lot of the things that I did and we swapped books. I got a lot of care packages from my wife back home and they usually had books. So my room mate, in the military we call them bunk mates got my second hand books which never failed to bring out his dopey looking smile. We got to know each other. He had a five year old, a two year old and one on the way. In the military we call those deployment babies. As I said, I worked in operations and he worked as a Corpsman and frequently ran the convoys that brought supplies and such to military and civilians. One particular operation in the works was deemed a bit risky but then, the whole area had risks. He didn’t make it back home.

Fast forward a few years and I am in college and I’m with a Navy guy and a Marine and we are bonding. The Navy guy is taking some feminist gender studies class thinking he will score a babe or two while the Marine and I are taking a sociology class from a professor from Nigeria. It is the last requirement on my list and I didn’t want to take the psychology course because I didn’t want to dredge up things that happened back in the Sand Box. Too many memories there. The Navy vet guy dropped the course because he was the center of attacks from a bunch of crazy SJWs and the Marine and I laughed and teased him about it especially since it was an elective that he would now have to make up for. The Marine and I complained that we were really in a class made and designed by liberals and we thought we were better off. Sure we had to listen to why our country sucked and why white people are bad because the Constitution was made by slave owners. We were a trapped audience but, hey, it was a requirement. But as the semester dragged on we were under increasing hostility. Whenever the professor had “debates” it was just a means to attack us. We did our best to not participate and just hang out in the back. We had people chanting “Bush lied, people died” from the class and on and on. I was on my way to suma com laude with just another A grade. We got nothing but disrespect and displaced hatred largely because many of the students knew we were military vets. It made no difference what we knew, we were cheated because we did not break ranks and join the hate-America-first crowd. We didn’t say squat in class. We endured. I’m proud to say that I got my first and only C in that class and that I graduated com laude and not suma com laude. Sure, the professor “won”. The class got a whole semester of free shots on us but I got my degree. I did not break and from here on out I knew that I would fight back. None of those guys punks could hurt me and I wasn’t hand cuffed by the military to muzzle my thoughts. I realize that the students were being influenced by an unprofessional man and that it is very difficult to fit in when two thirds of the class is being egged on. I don’t expect bravery from young kids. I don’t hold Tor employees who have nothing to do with Irene Gallo accountable either. They have to feed families too.

So yeah, the most I can do to fight back against Tor editor aggression is piss and moan. All it would take on their part is for have one of them to break ranks and realize that they were speaking to flesh and blood people and to realize that it isn’t cool to speak out against a faceless crowd and call them names if you don’t know them. I realize that the editors of Tor have nothing to do with my lost comrades nor anything to do with my sociology class. It is just in my own small way to payback to all the senseless vitriol hurled at the little people I suppose. When Tor editors said those things there is a lot of collateral damage that they don’t care that happened. I have not heard one peep from many of them that what was done in the press against the Sad Puppies and their leaders was wrong or that it was bad. That is the only reason why I give John a pass. He spoke out. He recognized the wrong. Now that he dismisses everything I say as a “persecution complex” is another matter but that can be worked out.

I wish I could buy a Tor book. So far they have lost four sales. Belcher wrote a new book and I am a fan of Belcher because he writes weird westerns. Instead of buying his latest book I went out and found Dead West. It was good stuff too. This new sword and sorcery book looked good but then I’m reminded of what Tor did to Conan and I passed it up. Hell, it was priced at $2.99. I bought John Fultz’s book instead. I’m about a quarter of the way through the book and I can’t say that I miss passing up the Tor book.

I realize that writers that are marginally getting by might be hurt. Well, Tor just got through paying Scalzi a HUGE contract. How many advances to those writers did that cost? That ain’t my fault. I think it is more mismanagement on Tor’s part. How many sales for the Tor brand did Scalzi bring to his fellow writers at Tor with his hissy fits? Irene Gallo seems to be unfazed that her words might have consequences for Tor writers.

You say that Tor painstakingly goes to every measure to make your novels look appealing. I say that you can cook a steak that is probably delicious but if you put it on a dirty garbage can lid to serve it then it isn’t as appealing. Tor has serious PR problems. I could be wrong but I would think that I would be a prime candidate to be a Tor buyer. I might be just in a “persecution complex” and not realize that I am persona non grata in Tor’s new marketing campaign.

So I’m a racist, homophobe, sexist, neo-Nazi who is a moon bat with a persecution complex. What would you expect of someone like me?

Wild Ape

“People who would be called Social Justice Warriors are generally very against heavily sexualized depictions of Marvel/DC superheroes.”

First off, SJWs are not an organization. They are decentralized and therefore no one speaks out for all of them. Some are radical feminists and others might be fundamentalist Christians. Both camps might scorn the vamped up women in Marvel and DC comics. Marvel and DC are easy to target.

What I don’t like about Marvel and DC is that they used to be politically neutral but now they are hard left and their writers suck.

A good example of what I’m talking about is like when DC made Green Lantern gay. Now, most comics that have homosexual storylines fade away and die because the only story they have is the coming out of the closet story. DC takes decades of a storyline and then just puts it on its head.

The big complaint from SJWs seems to be that no one takes homosexuals seriously in comics. I say it is lousy writing. If GRRM can make Tyrion or the Viper a hero and Richard K Morgan can make Ringil then there isn’t any excuse for failed heroes. Instead they blame the audience.

Comic storylines have slow incremental changes but when Green Lantern was made gay it didn’t account for all the other characters that went along with it. It wasn’t small changes over a long time but a quick change which alienated a lot of Green Lantern fans. See what I mean? Bad writing. The public can swallow any kind of hero but then you have SJWs who want to force fit diversity into the storyline whether or not it fits.


Marvel and its tea bagging episode is nothing more than unmasked hatred for the Tea Party Conservatives.


Now this was a series that I had every issue of and I read since I was twelve years old. I stopped on issue #602 and I have never bought another Captain America comic. Nor will I so long as Brubaker has anything to do with Captain America. Brubaker later retracted it and future copies of the magazine will never be run. I mean, that is so dumb. Comics don’t run the same material.

Anyway, nothing of Brubaker was in the Captain America movie. It wasn’t even the same story and it actually turned Brubaker’s story on its head. Hollywood knows and understands the characters far more than Brubaker and a lot of writers at Marvel and DC. Brubaker is a political hack and a terrible writer. I happen to know of several Captain America fans that were repulsed by Brubaker’s jackass stunt. He lost a huge audience. Hollywood propped it up because they have better writers who actually understand their audience and the character.

Why does TV/movies work better than books? Again, competition. There was a time when boys read a lot of books. They liked the rocketships and the heroic adventure stories. I’m sorry but Rainbow Pony just doesn’t get it done. Boys have options and they take them up playing Call of Duty and Halo.

I’ve heard it many times that girls read more than boys and that boys can’t be turned on to books. That is just not true. Boys just don’t have as many fun options in SF/F. Besides SJWs tell them they are having wrongthink quite a bit. I think that is why they try to tempt them with Emma Frost camel toe. I’ll admit that I thought Emma Frost looked pretty hot, but is that how you want the boy to learn how to be a man? I’m not making this up, people say that I’m old school. I saw an eighteen year old—prancing—and he wasn’t a girl. I see a lot of boys acting like girls these days. Call me a sexist but I don’t see much mental toughness or masculinity from them. I think the expectations placed on them are conflicting and inconsistent. Sure, it is normal to think a girl is hot but it is another matter to treat her like a prostitute. If you say anything about any of that you get subjected to an SJW hissy fit for moralizing.

@Eugene—congrats on being a SJW. What have you done to save the planet today? I made a blood sacrifice of a cow. Mmm-mmm the burger was good too. Just doing my part for the ozone. My dog was given part of the sacrifice too.

John ONeill

> ‘I haven’t read Riding the Red Horse and probably won’t.’
> Not fine. Boycotting VD’s website is fine. Booing if he wins is fine. Connie Willis refusing to risk presenting VD an
> award is fine. But if not reading the best SF out there is progress, I am Marie Queen of Romania


This is why it looks to everyone watching this kerfuffle that Puppies have a persecution complex. You take a simple expression of fact and assume it’s an attack on your values.

I cover about 20-30 books per month at Black Gate. That’s an enormous number, and it requires a great deal of focus. There are lots of books out there I’d love to read, but if they’re not relevant to my BG readers, I’ usually forced to pass on them.

Black Gate is a fantasy site. Perhaps you’re new to the site, and that wasn’t apparent. I haven’t read an SF novel in almost two years. And I haven’t read an SF anthology – of any kind — in about four. So my prediction that I wasn’t likely to read Vox’s military SF anthology was a reflection of reality.

I know you’ll read over this note several times looking for evidence that I’m obsessed with persecuting you and trashing the Puppies at every opportunity, and there’s nothing I can do to prevent that. But I’ll say it anyway: turn your tireless search for enemies elsewhere. There are no enemies for you here.


Wild Ape,
Alan Scott, Green Lantern of Earth 2, is gay in the New 52 because his gay son, Obsidian, from the previous continuity now longer exists (because Alan Scott is now decades younger).


I meant no longer exists!


@John O Neill-

‘I haven’t read an SF novel in almost two years. And I haven’t read an SF anthology -of any kind- in about four. So my prediction that I wasn’t likely to read Vox’s military SF anthology was a reflection of reality.’

John O Neill previously, ‘I like mil-SF.’

‘It looks to everyone watching this kerfuffle that Puppies have a persecution complex.’

I am Marie Queen of Romania and Our royal thoughts are far beyond psychiatric help, whether offered as passive-aggressive polemic. ‘It looks to everyone watching’, for sooth.

‘turn your tireless search for enemies elsewhere.’


John ONeill

> I am Marie Queen of Romania and Our royal thoughts are far beyond psychiatric help,

LOL! I am appropriately put in my place, once again, by someone with a better sense of humor than me.

Well played, Mr. Bruce. Well played.

Wild Ape

“Wild Ape, I can totally understand why you feel the way you do. Please know that not all of us on the left are like those who have done these things to you.”

Most liberals I know aren’t bad people. My mom is one. My best buddy is a social liberal and a economic conservative. Most of them are well meaning has been my experience. I just disagree with them philosophically at times. No harm, no foul.

“Alan Scott, Green Lantern of Earth 2, is gay in the New 52 because his gay son, Obsidian, from the previous continuity now longer exists because now Alan Scott is now decades younger”

I’ll take your word for it. I am going off of information of a friend who read Green Lantern for years. I wasn’t ranting against gay superheroes, just ranting against bad writing. I do know there was backlash from Green Lantern fans.

Black Panther was another cool character that was ruined with bad writing. Instead of good Black Panther stories with a rich history the writer succumbed to SJW pimpage and made him up to Superman proportions. It made him look silly and the stories were racially charged lame. Now that would pass with Power Man but the shift to the new Black Panther was a bad move. Marvel should take a look at a Milton Davis Changa novel. Africa is rich with cool in his books and not in your face. Marvel went Superman when it should have gone Batman as the character was designed. They should have capitalized on the mystic Africa and not the Wakanda uber alles diatribe. Think Imaro.

“This is why it looks to everyone watching this kerfuffle that Puppies have a persecution complex. You take a simple expression of fact and assume it’s an attack on your values.”

It is too easy to dismiss and marginalize a whole group of fans. The rejection is more from who made the nomination and not so much what they nominated. The reaction of the “truefans” is exactly what confirms our belief that they think they have license to dictate what is and what is not rightthink and how the Hugos should be awarded. When the newspapers and magazines attacked the silence was telling. No one stepped in from the truefans to call foul.

“I cover about 20-30 books per month at Black Gate.”

My kindle thanks you. I wish you got a cut of what I buy. I probably don’t sound grateful for the work you do, but I do appreciate it. I wish there was a posting of BV Larson’s Star Force series, or Peter Grant’s Laredo series, or something from the Warmachine book line. I’m not complaining. You are doing a fine job.

Eugene R.

Wild Ape,

> @Eugene—congrats on being a SJW. What have you done to save the planet today? I made a blood sacrifice of a cow. Mmm-mmm the burger was good too. Just doing my part for the ozone. > My dog was given part of the sacrifice too.

I worked 8 hours at a farmers’ market selling locally grown fruit and produce (non-organic but IPM, Integrated Pest Management, which is low-impact spraying). I introduced several nice folks to various cultivars (Shiro and Methley plums, Sour Bough apples, donut peaches, golden beets) and foods (garlic scapes, parsnips) with which they may not be familiar. Not a giant step to saving the Earth, but hopefully one small one.

Also, if SJWs are not an organization and have no spokespeople, how do we know who/what they are? I am a Green because I follow a published set of principles, the Ten Key Values (one of which is Decentralization, by the way).

Wild Ape

Eugene, I hate to break this to you but you were engaging in commerce and that is a disqualifier. Had you been throwing vegetables in order to make people suffer for not complying to your terms that would be a different matter. Think more radical and less civil is the key if you want to get on the SJW list. You probably want real justice and without pain and suffering involved…..well, you are probably too rational.

Don’t let that get you down. Bill Ayers spent a few years in small meaningless bombings before he hit the big time and became a professor of education shaping young hearts and minds.

Bob Byrne

Not that my opinion matters, but I’ll give it anyways:

I could not care less about the HUGO awards. They could vanish tomorrow and life would continue on unchanged (I think for everyone, but obviously many folks feel otherwise).

There are FAR more important issues in the world deserving of this level of energy and “discussion.” It reminds me of the over-emphasis this country puts on NCAA football (And I say that as a lifelong OSU Buckeye fan).

I keep hoping the Hugo-related posts will stop, but they keep popping up here at BG and comments keep stoking the flames.

John ONeill

> I keep hoping the Hugo-related posts will stop, but they keep popping up here at BG and comments keep stoking the flames.


Yeah, I understand your frustration. But this is a passionate topic for a great many fans. So far this year, the top five articles published at Black Gate have all been related to this controversy.

We’re like any other media outlet… if we don’t cover the issues our readers care about, our readers will go elsewhere.


lifelong OSU Buckeye fan

You know how you can meet somebody, or hear their opinion on something, and instantly know you can be friends with that person?

This is not one of those times.


I’m tempted to write a long screed on how the article itself argues much of what we on the other side, be it puppies or (in my case) advocates of a revival of old school pulp have been saying. Clearly an agenda, sure you argue against “Conspiracy” but you don’t need one for an agenda -etc. Clearly also ramming “Progressive” stuff at the cost of everything else.

My solution – for all the people who long for good stories, and especially non-pc adventure, fantasy, scifi and are sick and tired of all the jaded and rammed “Progressive” stuff –

1. Avoid the “Publishing houses” like the black death and A.I.D.S.
2. Seek out individual writers. Avoid those clearly tied to publishing houses unless they break with them.
3. Buy their works directly. If you pay a writer $5 for a book online .pdf you pay them many times what they’d get if you bought a full price book from a publisher. Ditto for an indie musician or comics artist.
4. Fight rabidly for Net Neutrality – these markets don’t fear copying, they fear competition. Music studios fear garage/basement bands selling music online and hitting it off. Movie studios fear indie movies selling online. And yes publishers, be it comics or literature, fear people making their own stories they can’t control and leech off of selling online.


5. Death, Death, DEATH to “Political Correctness” – it is like being on an ocean liner and going below deck you find out they are welding shut the valve on the boiler because someone complained they couldn’t stand the noise, not to mention the ship’s running on the backup engine with it’s two real engines dead ‘cos the investors would panic if even one fiscal quarter they showed a slight dip in profits… We need to push against it, it’s an insult to any real “Progressive” change that people fought and died for in the past and all it’s bringing is brewing a backlash and having professional victims whine for more. Push against it big time in what you do and what you purchase. Myself though I’m against RL racism I miss all those movies with “Filed teeth African Cannibals”

6. Realize that these “Awards” are bunk. Clearly biased with an “Agenda”. And if people on the “Other Side” made awards, for now they could be as biased, just a different lens. In the 70s and earlier they did have brilliant awards. Long term editors and established writers read all they could find and like Rome before it declined they balanced each other out and made good decisions, the best you could hope for. And these people let through “The New Wave” which was good for a while but then degenerated in the hands of increasingly monopolistic publishers and new writers/editors with agendas into what we have today. Maybe someday we can work out a sane system with checks for good scifi/fantasy – but for now an award should only mean “This publisher likes that product and probably is charging the writer 99% vs 90% of profits for the politics to get it…”

@David – you said “It is time for all of us to put away our knives, and take up our pens once more.”

Sure, you got it. But realize we know that the industry needs a good shakeup. It only rests on its past and pushes forth a new agenda. I’m sure you’ll circle the wagons to prevent any “Puppy” thing from happening again in your own sandbox, just like the World Fantasy Awards changed their own rules after Neil Gaiman won the 1991 award for his Midsummer Nights Dream. But these are getting less and less relevant and now with an open internet there’s not the barriers to distribution and publishing there used to be. If people start buying stuff from individual good writers but associate the publishers with big, bloated “P.C.” pointless blather, well that’ll do the work for us no matter how “Politically Correct” and bland appealing the stories are.

Eugene R.

Mr. Coe,

Thank you for bringing in the professional writer’s perspective on our discussion. It is easy for us in fandom to attribute a lot of differing motives on the authors and publishers and other creators of our favorite materials (particularly when they fail to meet our expectations), but it is good to be reminded of the economic realities under which they operate and struggle.

And I must confess that I am confused by the idea that Neil Gaiman is the victim of a ‘PC” agenda, as Mr. Gaiman’s work would seem to conform to exactly the parameters for which ‘PC’ works are being criticized (inclusive, non-Eurocentric, critical of “received tradition” in fantasy). Mayhap I am too brainwashed to understand.

Oh, and I did like Dead Man’s Reach and have recommended your Thieftaker series to all the Dresden File fans whom I know.

Wild Ape

I have to say that I agree with a lot of what David said and I have learned a lot from this whole Hugo kerfunkle bit. I’ve had to back track a bit of my thinking.

One points 1,2,and 3 I’d say that publishers invest a lot of money and time when they publish novels. This was one of the reasons why the sword and sorcery novels that I liked disappeared a few years back and are now back in the publishing fold. Publishing houses know what their readers buy and so it is in their best interests to keep pumping out stuff that their audience wants. Up until the advent of the ePubs it didn’t make much business sense to appeal to a small niche of readers.

The writer has options that that prior to the ePub age was not feasible to him/her. Self publishing and small publishing companies are available now. It costs nothing to publish on Kindle whereas before self publishing meant that the writer assumed the hefty price tag that publishers did. Book rack space is very expensive. All writers are expected to pedal their work, even if they are published by an established publishing house. The publisher has a broader platform and more access to rack space at the bookstore.

That means that a writer can go with a publishing house but I think what David says is not true in some respects. If you write military sci-fi then the best publisher is someone like Baen and not Tor. If you put it to Tor the chances are that an editor won’t bite on it but Baen has editors would be more intrigued. That isn’t a knock on Tor or their editors, it is just the people they employ and their tastes in fiction. Still, if you sent the book to Baen it will probably be under a stack of books. There might be a hundred worthy books but they only have room to print a few a month. The odds are still steep.

Self publishing has its own problems too. Never underestimate how a good editor can turn a decent idea into a good story. The editor has a second set of eyes and probably a better vision of what works. Self published books are notorious for bad grammar and you will have to find your own grammar Nazi to tighten it up. You will have to find your own artist and figure out how to put a professional look on it or buy a premade book cover. Then you will have to make your own platform and get the word out.

I don’t think David is right about the percentage that a writer makes on a book. Sure a $5 novel nets only $3.50 but you aren’t splitting that money with the publisher. That is why successful self published writers are very happy that they get more money. I have read self published books that should have been picked up for publishing. But so far the ePub generation of writers is new and success stories are growing. Publishers are recruiting from the successful self publishing ranks. This is proof that the market has changed.

Now I do read John Ringo but he would have zero chance of being published at Tor. He is just too right wing preachy for their tastes. And there are many preachy Tor writers who I doubt would see publication with Baen or others. It just doesn’t fit their battle plans or their audience who expect X from the respective publishers.

I don’t think writers have to worry about being PC anymore as they have in the past. I just don’t think that washes.

At the same time point #4, I think David is spot on. Net Neutrality would be a death sentence to the internet, freedom, and right wing writers. I’m amazed that David who claims to be progressive is against Net Neutrality but I applaud that he is on my side of the fence on this one. Do you really want a government bureaucrat determine the fate of your fiction? Keep in mind that the IRS is targeting right wing groups right now and that is just wrong. Even if right wingers are in charge of it, do people on the left really want a right winger in charge of their fiction? I see it as a lose-lose proposition. Get the government’s grubby little hands off of the internet! Net Neutrality might look good on paper but it is hardly fair.

#5 Death to political correctness? I think the left wing of the Hugos and publishing are not happy with the public backlash but the right wing has its own form of political correctness too (and rabid SJWs). It goes too far when it becomes MacCarthy like but at the same time, I do see the benefits of civility. There is a balance that can be had.

#6 I think the Hugo should not be a rocket, it should be a bob sled. The genre of SF/F is just to wide and vast to please everybody. I think it appears broken when one side, left or right, ceases control. Those that vote get to determine who wins a Hugo and if they don’t show up then they don’t get to complain. No the Sad Puppies might get zilch. That is a possible. They also might sweep and that is possible too. I’m thrilled that record voters have arrived. I think that when you have small numbers publishers do have a greater say on who does or who does not get a Hugo or a nomination. When you have thousands then they don’t have as much.

I do think that the industry needs a shake up. It is a lumbering dinosaur that slowly makes turns and headway takes time. The free market will be more a factor of success or failure. It will always need a shake up now and then because a business relies on the new trends and tries to repeat those successes.

I don’t think it is as grim as you make it Green Gestault. After reading your post I looked on Amazon and saw all of John Norman’s Gor books were now available on Kindle. I have prime membership so I can read the whole series for free. I think more and more out of print books will be put on the internet and this will be useful information to publishers. If there is a thirst for something I won’t be surprised if something suddenly gets a second life.

“Here are the facts. Publishers don’t give a damn about the politics of their writers. They care about selling books, pure and simple. They don’t have an ideological agenda, as much as you’d like to think they do. They look for good writers telling good stories, and they publish the tales they find. That’s why Baen can publish Ringo and Correia AND also publish Eric Flint and David B. Coe. It’s why Tor can publish John Scalzi AND John C. Wright.”

I’d agree with Baen but I wouldn’t want to be John Wright. I’d have my lawyer on the line or at least a conversation with a few Tor editors. Tor editors eat their young. Baen editors were smart enough to keep silent and let the dust settle, Tor, not so much. Tor might be able to weather the storm but they had a PR disaster. You can think happy thoughts all you want David but what many of them said was not professional. I met toll booth workers with more integrity and it would not have cost them one dime to amend what they said. They were hardly the ambassadors of civility.

Here are my solutions:

1. Make the price to vote $5-15.
2. Bump up the number of nominations to 10 but allow only voting for 5 per category.
3. Add books in series as a catagory.
4. Separate Sci-fi and Fantasy catagories. I think this would deconflict competing genres and make more awards.
5. Get the writing/publishing celebrities that can tolerate each other together in some sort of photo op. I think the best thing that I saw was the interplay between Correia and GRRM. I don’t think these two hate each other but it did a lot to cool jets. Getting people who seem to be interested in uniting more play would be better than concentrating on the politics of the day. I think it would be fun to have Correia and GRRM go to a shooting range and fire at Geoffry and Werewolf pop up targets. Something like that to remind everybody that we are people and not truefans versus wrongfans. I know this sounds like a stupid idea but I think it would broadcast a different tone than the one played now.
6. I think Tor and other publishers should say something against what the Guardian, Entertainment Weekly, and others wrote. This hurt fandom worse because it made people tribe up. This did nothing positive for fandom. That way Tor would not have to backtrack but could give a little positive PR. When the editors piled on after the wave of character assassination pieces it made them look like they were complicit. A little empathy would not kill them.
7. Ignore Vox Day. The Sad Puppies “block vote” was really a suggested list and it wasn’t very effective. The Rabid Puppy block vote was effective and I think very off putting even to the Sad Puppies. It divided fandom and that is exactly what he wanted. Block voting should be looked at as a hostile act but there isn’t much anyone can do about it. All the anti-Vox sentiment only gave him free advertising and gave him more power than he really had. The counter to Vox Day is to ignore Vox Day. Quit being so afraid of him and don’t rise to his baiting.
8. Whoever “wins” that side should try to be gracious and not poor winners. Again, having a little empathy might go a long way.
I know that I am one to talk and then moralize and don’t think that I can’t hear your eyeballs rolling. I hope my side doesn’t do a sack dance or something that will bait the other side. Wishful thinking on my part to be sure. It will look ugly no matter who does it. For those of you on the left, remember that each year you crow and gloat the Sad Puppies’ ranks swell so gloat away.

Well, those are my recommendations. For those who are still awake, thanks for reading.

Eugene R.

Wild Ape,

Thank you for advocating for a balanced and civil discussion on the kinds of sf/f we all love and want to read.

Mr. Coe,

Thank you for embodying that balanced and civil discussion. Do come back whenever you wish!

Wild Ape

“This discussion, at this point has devolved into just the sort of thing I had been hoping to avoid”

David, I’m not calling your experiences at Tor a lie nor am I calling every person who works there names. Some of the editors were unprofessional and made poorly spoken remarks and I criticized them. “Eating their young” is a military expression for being harshly committed to your goals. I’m not calling them monsterous savages, I’m calling them mean spirited partisans.

“You might not like their politics, and you might not like what they said, but they are professionals, they’re smart as hell, and they’re good people.”

No offense, but I come from a place that has a stronger definition and demands of professionalism—the military. We demand it of our geniuses as well as those only rubbing a couple of brain cells together. As a whole we recognize that our actions both on and off duty reflect not only on ourselves but on our branch and our country. I see echoes of that in the civilian world. I can’t say that I ever heard a McDonalds or Wal-Mart executives call their customers names. And lets be honest. Calling someone a racist or a Nazi because you don’t like their nominations for a Hugo is…..just a bit out of bounds.

“expressing those opinions doesn’t make them monsters.”

Monsters no, jackasses yes. A jackass is very stubborn and a vampire has got to eat so monsters would not be appropriate.

“I understand your anger.”

I’m going to let that one go because what I hear from you is this:
“I’m sorry if that angers you, but you’re talking about my colleagues and friends”

Who are calling my buddy who lost two legs in Grenada a neo-Nazi. Who call a mother from the Phillipines a racist. All I hear from your side is that it is justified to do so. I could be wrong but I doubt that your friends at Tor are feeling any pain at all. If they are then I hope they feel a little remorse because then they might have shot at learning somethings that are beyond Vox Day’s grasp: civility, empathy, decency.

“I have been writing for Tor my entire career. I’ve published 16 books with them. I know the culture there as well as anyone. And while you have an opinion of what they’re like, that opinion is not based on any first hand experience.”

Not true, I’m basing it on first hand experience based on what they say and do. It isn’t hard to read what they write when they voice their opinions. Scalzi is very chatty on Twitter. If they aren’t themselves there in public, how are they different from themselves at Tor? You are assuming that a business relationship would be the same kind as contact they make with people in public. How exactly does your business relationship negate my public exposure to them or erase what they have said?

That you work for them and have a good relationship with them comes as no shock or surprise. Let’s face it, they are a part of your team who bring your new baby books into the world with loving care. It isn’t a stretch for me to relate with professional teams of my own like my insurance agent, my lawyer, and my lawn maintenance guy or my boss at work.

Look, to you I probably sound like a wild ape. I’m retired military, I worked the oil fields, I’m a supervisor. I’m sure there is force in my tone when I type it but I have tried to tone it down. You sound as gentle as a lamb David. I can tell that you are miffed even when you write as softly and as kindly as you have.

Don’t worry. In two weeks football will be back in swing and I’ll probably drop off of BG posting. Everybody will be relieved. I start up work soon and I’ll be too busy to read. Now some people hate going to work and I used to be one of those guys. Then for the last seven years I got this new gig. Now I look forward to work and the challenges that are there. I won’t have idle time. So stick it out and peace on earth will reign on BG again. I know that I’m not funny but I sometimes don’t care that I’m not funny.

“This discussion, at this point has devolved into just the sort of thing I had been hoping to avoid.”

??? I take it you didn’t like my solutions. Was it the Correia-GRRM thing? That is just an idea. How about a cosplay? Correia could wear a kaiju suit and GRRM could go as Gary Gygax. That would be fun.

@Eugene—ha ha ha. Not funny. Don’t you have polar bears to count?

And yeah, that crack flew past my head the first two times I read it. Here I thought the great Eugene was paying me a compliment. Do you know how often I get praised for having a civil discussion online? Like NEVER. EVER. And just as a I was going to cut and paste your “compliment” into my personal Tome of Internet Wit and Hall of Flames the candle in my head lit. Now, Eugene, that crack is going down into the Book of Grudges. Expect glacier ice melting comments from my flame thrower next time we meet.


This discussion, at this point has devolved into just the sort of thing I had been hoping to avoid

I have a question. What were you hoping for?

I mean I just went back and reread both of your posts. And other than a rambling long winded speach basically saying “why cant we all get along” plus telling the puppies that they are wrong and to “be a good doggy” I dont get what you were trying to accomplish.


one other thing:

It’s why Tor can publish John Scalzi AND John C. Wright.

When was the last time Tor “discovered” an out spoken right winger?

Wright probably shouldnt count since he began his career with Tor prior to his conversion.

Wild Ape

I’m not trying to insult David but I wish he had done some things before he went. He says that people on both sides of the aisle are his friends but I heard nothing about the Baen writers. Is Correia a white supremacist wife beater? Are the aspersions about Torgersen remotely true? It is all well and good that he stood against Sad Puppies but I would like to have seen some balance at the out and out lies hurled at the puppy kickers too. I know the lies that were spread were believed by some.

“Assumptions and labels hurt us all. This long-term fight has hurt us all, which, again, is why I’ve been writing these posts in the first place.”

I say this not to be mean and I know my tone is harsh so….when you use the word conspiracy it was probably not the right word. There is nothing covert about what several editors at Tor feel about the Sad Puppies. Think about what TW is saying. It doesn’t take much of a Google search to come up with a conservative writer who works for Tor—David Brin. The writer isn’t the problem. Name a conservative editor. The pen may be mightier than the sword but the editor has the power of erasing the mighty pen. The publishing world’s printing presses tilt to the left. They need more right wing blood in their editing.

Now when you think about an editor that person is a gate keeper. They make all the difference. When Lin Carter dropped from DAW all the Lin Carter kind of fiction disappeared with it. Tor botched Conan. The editors knew it was popular but they didn’t know what to do with the line. I’ll give you an example of how they haven’t a clue how to appeal to the sword and sorcery crowd. This is from the back cover teaser of “The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps” by Kai Ashante Wilson:

“Since leaving his homeland, the earthbound demigod Demane has been labeled a sorcerer. With his ancestors’ artifacts in hand, the Sorcerer follows the Captain, a beautiful man with song for a voice and hair that drinks the sunlight.”

Now I can appreciate the good writing but “…the Sorcerer follows the Captain” ??? is he a beta male? “…a beautiful man with song for a voice and hair that drinks the sunlight.” ??? Will I be buying a gay romance or a sword and sorcery book? See what I mean? They are pandering to their audience.

Compare this with Ragnarok’s backcover of Mountains of Daggers:

“Some call him hero. Others, a menace. But everyone agrees that Ahren is the best thief in the world. Whether he’s breaking into an impregnable fortress, fighting pirates, or striking the final blow in political war, Ahren is the man for the job.”

These guys talk my language. I’ve yet to read a book or a Grimdark magazine that I didn’t like. Ragnarok is the bomb and yes they appeal to their own audience.

I realize that I’m a nobody to Tor. There is no reason why they should listen to me. I’m no one special and I don’t buy a lot of their books, maybe four or so a year. I know they won’t miss me a bit and probably laugh at me if what I say even crosses their computer screen. I am, however, a somebody to those who know me. I like that people I know respect me. If Tor were to burn to the ground tomorrow it wouldn’t improve my life one little bit. If the Hugos were restored to glory I think that would be a good thing.


conservative writer who works for Tor—David Brin.

I think Mr Brin would take it as an insult to be labeled a “conservative”…

Plus he has been in publishing for 35-40? years (or near enough)

What I meant when was the last time Tor brought out a new author who was an outspoken non-lefty…not somebody who hid their opinions, but flat out preached their politics like so many of their new authors who preach lefty politics?


But who Knows, maybe Doherty funnels all those folks over to Baen…


To Mr Coe, I wasn’t able to reply till very late, then decided to cool off overnight.

I stand by my words. This “Industry” has ignored stuff lots of people like, acted as a monopolistic barrier and pushed “Diversity” and “Political Correctness” at the cost of the story.

Indeed 1-3 while it’s scary to some for good reason needs to be done. What if the puppies, the NeoPulps, the rest of the “Outsiders” push through fiction types that the major publishers rejected and ignored for so long and “Prove” that it’s sellable?

Editor to suck up lackey – “Wow!? This stuff is selling that good? Oh, well, let’s make some of that stuff and suck the wind out of their sales. Put a lot of money into it, get their best writers… THEN a few years later we’ll butcher the market again…toss the writers out and blacklist them again…mwhahahah!!!!”

Now here is what baffles me… It seems you have missed the point of Net Neutrality – or rather you see the surface but not the battle beneath. On the surface it’s about asking Netflix to pay an extortion toll – but what happens after stuff like that solidifies? Well you won’t be able to show your website about your CAT to anyone unless they are in the same company you subscribe to and have some “Internet Unlimited” option… That’s what it’s about – the big companies want to make the internet “TV 2.0” where you’ll have to be a multi-million dollar player and the others could still block you out if they don’t like you so better play straight and narrow. And, one man’s opinion that is the agenda – they want to eliminate all competition, especially any “Independent” writer, moviemaker, animator, comics artist, musician…

That leads to the next thing… “Political Correctness”

Again that has to END. PC is any true progressive, any true justice, any true rational positive thought. Robert Crumb for instance made tons of “Underground” comics that showed the changing times and social struggles. He also did brilliant work on “Folk” music and his work on collecting and researching “The Blues” rivals his artistic output. BUT – he also made stuff like “Angel Food McSpade”. THat “P.C.” is blamed on “Hippies” is insult to injury. A world of soft edges, controlled diets, maximum safety and comfort enforced by faceless emotionless enforcers is a hell worthy of R.U.R. (I assume people here of all places know of that?) We need Chaos, neither a God, nor a Maggot and to accept it, not stone wall into comfortable genres then draw lines to protect against change. My talents are turned to the past genres now, the pulps and adventure stories, but only because I detect a reservoir of energy contained, a fire needing to be unleashed. Well I like ‘em too and am sick of them being mocked, marginalized and ignored.

In plain English I’m totally for a good writer like Charles Saunders making his nice alternative take on Africa and his own take on the Conan stories. I like Imaro. I’d be signing petitions and if local trying to get some social action if some chain went “We won’t stock the works of that N…” But I want to still have some fictions where it’s “Kush; Land of the Savage Cannibals” and all sorts of non-PC imagery, done for fun this time around! “Political Correctness” has become nothing more than an engine that excretes Chutney and counter-racism against “The White Man” while celebrating every culture other than his and ignoring anything bad about other cultures.

On awards, I still think they are bunk. There’s no fair way to absorb all of that stuff and make a fair choice and the world is wide enough that there needs to be work for edgeworks that not everyone likes either. Over time if there’s balance to the market there might be a way to work it out, but not now. Wild Ape has a sensible idea tho-

Again the rescue should be the “Indie” model…

1. Let people publish anything they want and put it on online stores.
2. The online stores should be pressed to take around 10% no more. That gives them incentive to make available as much as possible with little incentive to micro-manage or ram through DRM schemes, etc.
3. The author should make several pages available from the work for instant preview. If out of a nice work you can read the first chapter you can tell if he’s talented enough/writing style/content to be worth your time to risk that $5 or whatever buying it. That alone takes care of spelling, grammar, etc that simple spellchecks and software and re-writing requires…
4. Cover art – interior art – another biggie for me. I can use 3d software and paint filters to “Fake it till I make it” cos while slightly sub-professional in illustration I have the eye. AND for some of my stuff I’ve worked with an actual pro artist. It’s worth that $ and I’m probably cultivating a relationship worthy of Amano/ Hideyuki Kikuchi, Dunsany and Sime, etc. Fear of being on “Good show, Sir” blog should keep a serious pro from using amateur or stock art. Check out Deviant ART, tons of “Starving Student Artists” would eagerly do a professional quality cover and a few internal illustrations for some money and the exposure it’d get them…You could make a long term friend or several, versus dreading whatever ‘stock art’ the company Cr-ps on the cover and charges you more than some good indie artist would for out of the money they’d pay you.
5. “Friends don’t let Friends” – “Joseph? You got that Shi-TOR book? Gah… Ever read that horrid RPG proposal one of their writers made? Here, try this work – they’d never dare print anything like this…” We need to cultivate the “Counter” pressure in our fans, or readers, so a fan for us costs several or more customers to the big behemoth monopolized publishers.

The “Publishing Houses” want to put out their own stuff – fine – but let them compete with open markets, using only their decaying reputations… I don’t think they’d stay the way they are in such a market… Heh, ever heard “He killed the Penny Dreadful by making the HaPenny Dreadfuller!”?

Doing this would shake up market for a while – but it’d re-emerge from its ashes in a new form. And the chaos would chase away the money grubbers. IMO writers should only write if they have a “Bardic” soul. While yes we’d all like to make tons of money so we could quit that day job and stab scissors in the shoulder of the elitist VP on the way out, we should write only for the story first.

We have a window of around a decade.
If we push through we’ll have unrivaled freedom and a huge market that will enrich the talented and even feed the hacks in rich or poor times.
If we don’t we’ll have a few ancient companies take hold and any manuscript will be among tens of thousands a jaded editor decides what fits what he might inflict on the public.


To Mr Coe – another thing – separate

On the idea of working for a big publisher – from my own research over the years I’ve run across much of the same warnings you get for “Indie” bands trying to get a label… In short, it’s super easy to not just lose all your characters, stories, control over them – but you can very easily end up in DEBT to them. Not just being paid a fraction of that book sale, but being billed the advertising, promotions, cover art even if gawdawful ugly and being charged for it – all on your shoulders – they get the lion’s share of the profit.

So, say someone does buy that $16.99 book or that price on Kindle/publisher’s online store…

How much (before even taxes) does the writer get?
Is it even $1? $5?

And does your company or ones you know of put writers through some “Contract” that leaves them in debt?

I’d rather an online store where I’d keep closer to 90% and it’s obviously MY work, they just charge a bit to process it – Kindle I’ll dump some stuff on (some Crime Noir and a bizzarro Scifi I’m writing) to test the popularity and exclusivity – but also to promote my other stuff elsewhere.

And again when I feel I need “Professional” quality art, I go to Deviant Art and see who’s open for commission – can get some good interior illustrations also, something I missed and want badly in books.


terrible, terrible mistake when they cast their lot with Vox Day and brought in the GamerGate folks in order to bolster their numbers.

You know something funny…

the Gamergate folks didnt care about sad puppies, until the Neilsen-Haydens and others started in on it. (Heck, in the grand scheme of things, they still dont)

If you want to blame anyone for bringing those folks into it, blame TNH.

Eugene R.

Wild Ape,

I am not sure why on the 3rd reading my remark seemed to turn into a “crack”, but it assuredly was not meant as anything other than a compliment, very much the same as my words to Mr. Coe in the same comment. Sorry if they left an unsavory taste in your mouth, sir.

Wild Ape

“I’ve already said what you wanted me to say, Wild Ape. You just weren’t listening.”

That’s possible but I like that you were specific this time around. Correia and Torgersen gets a lot of bad press and it is good to hear that a peer doesn’t think he is a bug eyed neo-Nazi or all the other vile things they said about them. Thank you for speaking up for them and being specific.

As for Tor, it is good to hear that too. I think it is good for all sides to remember that they are people and that they have a pulse. People on my side of the aisle have flamed away too.

“You tell me in a previous comment that somehow your professionalism is more valuable than mine, because you were in the military.”

I hope you didn’t take that personally. Calling people names is not professional, I hope we can agree to that. If you think that “somehow” my “professionalism is more valuable” because I was in the military, well, I’m biased and I’d have to say hands down the military is more professional than Tor. I’ve seen privates, colonels, and generals taken down for their lack of professionalism. The military plays hardball with things like that. Literally hundreds of thousands have served and are subjected to the UCMJ. Tor is no where close to the depth and scope and has lower expectations from their ranks. I am speaking about my own personal experience in both the military and the civilian world that I haven’t seen the military’s equal. I was just trying to tell you were I was coming from is all, I’m not insulting your professionalism.

“And as I have already said to you, the word conspiracy is not mine. It is what we hear again and again from those who think that SJWs control the Hugos.”

I was referring to a Neilsen Hayden comment which said that they controlled the Hugo. I consider PNH an SJW. I guess when the vote is out we shall see. My guess is that No Award will win.

“Editors are no more monolithic in their beliefs than writers… They are there to find the best work and get it published, ideology be damned.”

Probably true, again, I said that people make business decisions in an earlier post which would agree with your statement (if you were listening). I do think that drives most decisions. I think if they had a homogeneous spectrum of editors they would be better off. I showed an example of two publishing companies and how they attempt to sell the same kind of book to their audience. Neither one is right or wrong but an editor does make a difference as to who makes the cut or not. That is both business and human nature.

“The fact is I’m infuriated by much of what I’ve read here”

I’m not calling you a wuss if that is what you think I was implying. I think John gives a lot of leeway to guest writers so if you want to blast me go ahead. I think when someone is insulted or put off by a company it is rational to get ticked off. If someone slaps you is your first response to say, “Thank you sir may I have another?” with a big grin on your face. I would say that is irrational. I also think it is not rational to boycott a company because the owner/editor/whoever says something stupid. The jackass does not speak for the entire company. None the less, my personal “boycott” is going to take a while to die down because I’m slow to boil up and slow to die down.

“But do not take my restraint for weakness or meekness.”

I took your post as trying to wade into the middle of an ugly fight and to try to get people to calm the hell down. A lot more of that is needed. There are some who would look at that as weakness. They are the ones that want you to stick it to the other side. And the ones that don’t want restraint think you are a sell out. I think it is brave and I do respect that.

I’m also glad that you came back to answer questions. I realize that very few have been soft balls with a slow pitch but I think you shape an important picture. The Baen writers are not the monsters they are made out to be.

I would like for you to consider this. Gamersgate got its start from unethical journalism. I would argue that the Puppy fiasco became a battleground for the same reasons. The fact is the newspapers and magazines that came out and printed up what they did about the Puppies was factually incorrect, distortions, and flat out lies. If you ask me the most vocal of the anti Puppy crowd probably got a backlash because it made two mistakes, it did not condemn the false stories, and it piled on and then bitched when tempers flared. According to many on the left this was deserved.

@TW—Well, showing this bias would be easier if you were explaining the difference between red and green to a red/green colorblind person. They don’t see what we see. To them it all looks as if we just started raging out of the blue because we have a persecution complex or some such mania.

I came late to the Gamersgate but it is telling because the left has reacted to the unethical journalism in similar fashion. Here Sargon of Akkad debunks Anita Sarkasian:

Wild Ape

@Eugene—Naw, I was teasin’ bro. Counting polar bears? That was just ribbing you.

::::hides flame thrower behind back::::

Sarah Avery

My dear Ape, although you can be irascible at some times, you can be a voice of reason at others, and when you believe people are communicating in good faith, you truly do listen. If everyone on both sides were doing that last bit, we’d have seen a very different series of events unfold over the past several months.

I’m interested in your comments on The Sorcerer of Wildeeps above, because my readerly response to the book’s jacket copy was very different. In fact, it was different in ways that connect back to David’s original point about the difficulty of honoring both excellent execution of classic forms and excellent attempts of new or rare forms. You said:

I’ll give you an example of how they haven’t a clue how to appeal to the sword and sorcery crowd. This is from the back cover teaser of “The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps” by Kai Ashante Wilson:

“Since leaving his homeland, the earthbound demigod Demane has been labeled a sorcerer. With his ancestors’ artifacts in hand, the Sorcerer follows the Captain, a beautiful man with song for a voice and hair that drinks the sunlight.”

Now I can appreciate the good writing but “…the Sorcerer follows the Captain” ??? is he a beta male? “…a beautiful man with song for a voice and hair that drinks the sunlight.” ??? Will I be buying a gay romance or a sword and sorcery book? See what I mean? They are pandering to their audience.

Your first sentence is the one that I want to consider first. You say that the editors who acquired and produced this book have no idea how to appeal to the sword and sorcery crowd, but I find this book immensely appealing, and I think of myself as part of the sword and sorcery crowd.

So am I not part of that crowd, as you think of it, because I can find this book appealing? Or can your definition of that crowd be broadened when you find fellow fans who like sword and sorcery as much as you do who are interested in seeing unusual approaches to the subgenre?

(At the risk of introducing a tangent when I really do want to stick with Sorcerer of Wildeeps for a bit, this connects with a question I’ve been wanting to ask you about SJW’s. If I think folks on the right are talking about me when they express hostility toward social justice warriors, in the grounds that I care about social justice and actively struggle for it, it’s confusing to be told that I can’t be a social justice warrior because I’m too rational. Were I to tell you that you can’t be a real conservative or right-winger or whatever because you’re too willing to listen to other points of view (with the implication that everybody who really leans right is inherently closed-minded), I’m guessing that you’d probably feel irked. If the only people who can define a term are the people hostile to what it defines, it’s going to be really hard to mend even the breaches in our community that are still mendable.)

But back to Kai Ashante Wilson’s book.

Considering Janet Morris’s importance to the sword and sorcery tradition, and particularly the importance of the Sacred Band — warriors who fight as paired partners with their same-sex lovers, partially based on the famous historical badasses of Thebes — it seems strange to say that a gay love story is incompatible with sword and sorcery. Conan’s great love Belit, the pirate queen, could have been described in analogous terms to those used for the Captain in Sorcerer of Wildeeps, and nobody would think less of Conan for it.

For that matter, a sword and sorcery story from the viewpoint of a beta male wouldn’t be that strange, either. Consider how many of James Enge’s stories of Morlock the Maker are told from the viewpoints of the less-badass characters who traveled with Morlock. I would guesstimate that fewer than a quarter of the scenes in This Crooked Way are from Morlock’s POV. Morlock’s about 300 years old, the greatest swordsman in the world, and the greatest maker in the history of the world — pretty much anybody who shares a story with him is going to come off as the beta to his alpha, no matter how geekily his masculinity is inflected.

Another example of sword and sorcery told from the sidekick’s viewpoint would be the early work of P.C. Hodgell. Her heroine Jame is so badass that almost anybody sharing the stage with her would come off as a beta-whatever (beta male, beta female, beta-gigantic-sentient-warcat, beta-gigantic-sentient-carapaced-riding-mountain-ram, for a few examples of viewpoint characters from various stories and book chapters). But nobody seems to think her choices of viewpoint character diminish her claim to a place in the canon of sword and sorcery.

On one hand, as a woman who is also left-leaning and explicitly feminist, I am within the core audience you say Tor is pandering to. On the other hand, I think one sign of a flowering genre/subgenre/literary tradition is variety of expression. That’s where I link it back to David’s initial point: if this book can extend the reach of sword and sorcery, prove its versatility as a storytelling mode by deploying it to tell stories about things it usually doesn’t touch on, that seems to me a good thing. Potentially, depending on Wilson’s chops and style, it could be, for me, a deliciously entertaining thing. It may be that Kai Ashante Wilson is aiming for an entirely different flavor of fantasy than sword and sorcery — I haven’t read it yet. But I’m not persuaded that sword and sorcery is the defining interest for readers who would find the book off-putting.

Funnily enough, the only thing I find off-putting about the jacket copy is that it sounds like a romance. Gay characters and gay love stories, those I’m fine with, but romance generally, regardless of orientation and configuration, is not usually my thing. In fact, back when Vox Day was blogging here under his other name as Theo, before he started bringing his more incendiary politics to Black Gate, I was kind of sympathetic with his allergy to category romance, and said so in comments on his posts. Some readers have a receptor for whatever it is that makes romance’s genre conventions enjoyable, and some readers don’t. For me, a love story’s only really interesting if there’s genuine suspense about who will end up with whom, or whether anyone will end up with anyone, which is totally the opposite of what hard-core romance fans favor. In A Song of Ice and Fire I really like that I don’t know whether Arya and Gendry will ever meet again, whether the sympathy and near-trust between Tyrion and Sansa will ever allow them to make a real marriage of the arrangement that was forced on them. I like feeling that those things are possible, at the same time as I know any or all of those characters might die in the next scene I see them in. The romance fans among my friends may be able to adapt to that when they read GRRM, but their heads would explode if they had to deal with it in their home genre.

Well, that was longer than I intended. Looking forward to reading y’all’s thoughts.

Wild Ape

Sarah, I think this conversation is treading around a minefield. So, I will try to measure my steps but please understand that this medium of the internet/email stuff is worthless to communicate in. If we were having a face to face conversation it would be civil and possible. Anyway, it is good to hear from you.

I think one of the funniest meltdowns that ever happened was when my very straight and narrow buddy Nate went to see Brokeback Mountain because he thought it sounded like a good western or a cowboy movie. I haven’t seen the movie but I hear that it is a great romance story unless you talk to my friend Nate. Westerns are still rare but gay romance is in nearly every TV show and movie that I see. This isn’t by choice, it is just the new reality. Now does Nate have a case to want old fashioned John Wayne movies? Does it make him a homophobe or a neo-Nazi? Well, what he got was a whole lot of grief for saying that he hated Brokeback Mountain. That is similar to the games I’ve seen the SJWs play over and over. Nate is very specific about people he doesn’t like, he doesn’t like people who treat him poorly.

So, what do I call an SJW? I’d say that anyone who tries to force feed their political, religious, or philosophical beliefs upon society. Sadly, the term could describe people who are like you, David, and I who are just passionate about justice and standing up for the people who get kicked around. Or like Eugene who would like to see people respecting the Earth and not pollute it and make everything a toxic waste dump. I would say SJWs are in the spectrum of the Westboro Babtists, Code Pink, Debbie Wasserman Shultz, Anita Sarkasian, Anonymous, and the like. These people have no respect for anyone outside their narrow world view and they certainly are not willing to listen or debate.

There is nothing wrong with liking something. I find it very off putting that when Green Gestalt gets sneered at because he likes John Norman and loathes political correctness. I share his frustration that people have to kowtow to the thought police whenever they want to write something or like something. That is one of the points for the Gamersgate and Sad Puppy movement. It may not be purposeful ham handed dictatorial powers that are at work but the SJW thought police are legion and they do have a strong foothold with the media who are chomping at the bit to take out people like the Sad Puppies. It is also galling that there are many on the anti-Puppy side who do not see any bias or resentment directed towards the Sad Puppies. What we get is a Philip Sandifer who tosses red meat to the crowd and cheers on the savagery. What we get is a snarkfest from John Scalzi and several other Tor editors who are free to name call and lead a band of people who feel it is their duty to shame and punish those that dare to disagree.

You have to understand that there are people who make money and a living feeding off of the hate and division.

Now, if I were to speak honestly, yes, the right has obnoxious SJW groups too and yes, some make a living by feeding off the hate of the left. The trouble is is you honestly say that it is very easy for everyone to dismiss the wrongs done and say, “See, they do it too!”

Occasionally my buddy Nate gets to watch a new western and not a rerun. A lot of the westerns have writers who want to push the envelope and inject some sort of new age liberal message into the story. These things are hit and miss but we get to see the results quickly after the movie release. Not so with fiction. It might take years and decades to see results but when something is fresh and new or a good version of a classic you get a lot of fans. People flocked to Harry Potter and Twilight. There are piles of dead books that never get read. Unlike movies, some of them are very good and others are bad but no one knows. It takes a while for a good book to rise to the top.

What just infuriates me is that Game of Thrones has a lot of elements of a sword and sorcery novel. I wouldn’t classify it as such but I do maintain that there is a big iceberg of fans out there who like sword and sorcery and all that is visible is maybe the Conan stories at the tip of the ice berg. I think sword and sorcery is one of the toughest genres to write effectively. You have to have action, some grit. I think the stories have to be spooky and the setting has to be just so. I might be leaving stuff out but I do know that romance is not a central element although there might be romance in the story. That is probably why I passed, for now, the Sorcerer of the Wildeep. It is advertised like a romance. I did however find the book intriguing. When John calls it a sword and sorcery tale, I immediately perk up. When John finished with the Ken Liu quote about it being “lyrical and polyphonous, gorgeous and brutal” I was not as interested.

I think that Tor pegged you because they have the right buzz words that will heighten your interest. Sword and sorcery fandom is far broader than little old me. I do think that I fit the profile of most sword and sorcery fans or at least I once did. I don’t think total objectivity is possible but I don’t think it is a waste of time either. It is possible that between the years 1986 and 2006 when I gave up on even trying to find a sword and sorcery novel that the whole population of fans blossomed and the population shifted. I could be a minority in that fandom mix. I don’t know. So perhaps Tor is salient as ever and knows how to appeal to the masses, or they might have their heads where I think they had them when they held the Conan titles. I know that Ragnarok has the vibe that I look for. I haven’t read a book of theirs yet that I didn’t like. I hope I don’t sound like a beta-gigantic-semisentient-warcat-ape. Ha ha!

I don’t dislike romance in sword and sorcery per se. When I was a kid I liked Edgar Rice Burroughs books and the plot of saving a damsel in distress. When I got older that story got old and I would rather read about a Red Sonja or a Janet Morris book where the women are stronger and cool. It isn’t that I dislike romance, I thought Name of the Wind was really a romance story in a fantasy setting. I also read a variety of things within the genre. I like Imaro by Saunders and Changa by Milton Davis. Obsidian and Blood by Aliette De Bodard too. I’m not keen on the graphic gay sex in Steel Remains by Richard Morgan but it was a good book. Still, there could and should be more of the old stuff. Why is it that I find it in the self published section or in a small publishing company?

The point is that, like you, I’m up for something different. I still ache for the old stuff though. It is still there but it is rare and whether or not there is a conspiracy or a calculated business plan that keeps good Conan stories off the shelf the hole is still there. Now, anti-Puppy pinheads might say that I want to return to the 70s or 50s or whatever but that doesn’t mean Nate will wave jazz hands when he sees the next Lone Rangerette on her rainbow unicorn movie poster. It would delight me to no end if a writer of Robert E Howard potential hit the big time. I think it will happen someday and I’m pretty certain that Tor will be scrambling through their rejection piles for a similar knock off. That seems to be what big industries do—they follow. It is rare that they take the lead.

I might be wrong, but I think I am the demographic group that would typify sword and sorcery readers. Now, if I want—lets just say—Conan and the industry give me Rainbow Pony, then when it tanks don’t blame me. Give me Conan! One of these days someone is going to do just that and then they will be chasing it like they do with Harry Potter.

“Were I to tell you that you can’t be a real conservative or right-winger or whatever because you’re too willing to listen to other points of view (with the implication that everybody who reallyleans right is inherently closed-minded), I’m guessing that you’d probably feel irked.”

That is a good point and I was wrong to say that. I think I like Adam Baldwin who calls himself an American individual. I like that better. That way I get to be myself and not confined to a label. I also think I like Peter Grant who says he sympathizes with the Sad Puppies but doesn’t call himself one. Frankly, when I go to Monster Hunter Nation I get a heavy dose of the right wing bias too. Not so much from Correia but from the fans that post. A lot of them are as closed minded as the left wing bloggers. I try to be strident in my opinions but I try to listen and keep an open mind because I’m not afraid to be wrong and make a correction.

I’ve changed my thinking on the Hugo mess.

One big loser in this will be the Hugo award. The central vote for this whole thing has been wrapped around rejection or support of fiction supported by the Puppy groups. No matter who wins there will be deeper and more entrenched opposition towards the other. The Hugo will be a proxy war between the left and right and that will be off putting for everyone. I don’t know if I will be a Sad Puppy after the awards. This internecine warfare is not my bag. I’m in it for the books and the writers. If my partisanship for their stories is going to be ammunition for a culture war then I am not serving my original purpose. I want to read more old fashioned sword and sorcery and military sci-fi, not make the whole genre part of a culture war.

Let me know if I missed any of your points. I didn’t have much of an organized flow.

Sarah Avery

We’re good, my friend. I’m pretty tired, but I’m glad I stayed up to get a quick look at your reply.


To Wild Ape – let’s clarify – what they’ve been doing since the late 70s/early 80s was putting out “Rainbow Pony” but then BLAMING the fans who didn’t buy as much or left coz they wanted another “Bucket of Gor”…

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