Please stop with the death threats and the hate mail.

I am breaking my vacation internet embargo for this.

Folks. Do not send death threats to Larry Correia, Brad Torgersen or anyone else on the Sad Puppies slate. That is a shitty thing to do. Stop it.

I, too, am angry about how things went down with the Hugos, but am also realistic about the fact that much of the work — not all of it — but a lot of it is on there because people are legitimately excited about it. Yes, there are some things from Rabid Puppies that seem to be there purely for shock value.  But others? Sheila Gilbert does damn good work. Jim Butcher is a serious writer.

When I sit down to vote, I am, in fact, going to open every file and start reading it. As soon as it doesn’t work for me, I’m going to shut the document. Now, in two cases, I’ll admit, that means that the author’s name is as far as I’m going to read because I’m familiar with their work and know that it makes me angry. I am not going to vote for it, so why make myself angry for no reason?

Everyone else? Sure. Let’s see if that’s fiction that I might enjoy. I have voted for works before of authors who I have disagreed with politically. Shocking, but true.

But regardless of all that, and my personal choices… For the love of all you hold sacred, do not send death threats to people whose politics you disagree with. Seriously. What the hell are some of you thinking?

If you want anyone to believe you when you say that the Hugos are supposed to be about the work, and not the politics, then do not threaten or harrass people. Vote. Get your friends to vote. Get their friends to vote. Get your cousins to vote.

Evangelize about the fiction you love. You think [x] should win? Talk about why. Don’t waste your time talking about why [y] shouldn’t win. Someone likes it. We know, full well, that crapping in a person’s fandom is not a successful strategy.

And threats and harassment are really, really, really not effective. And awful.

Please don’t be awful.

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115 Responses

  1. Jenn Mercer

    Seconded on the call for basic human decency. I was sad to hear that some of the works I have enjoyed (Jim Butcher/Dresden Files and The Flash) were on the sad puppy list, but that will not stop me from voting for them. The rest… eh. I will try.

    1. Anwyelle

      I agree with you. I enjoy those works as well, and will continue to enjoy them although others do not. Anyone criticising those works will not make me love them any less.

  2. Rachel A. Marks

    Thanks for this, Mary. Should be a no-brainer, but apparently not. Sad that it needs to be said at all.

    Odd that they don’t realize: once you become the villain your vitriol is a mad rambling and means absolutely nothing.

    Rachel~

  3. Nalini Haynes

    This. Totally this.

    Another thing a lot of people seem to forget is that shock-work is often intentional for its attention-seeking value. Three years ago I discovered some abhorrent people in the science fiction community were writing blatantly untrue and twisted things about me. These were people I’d never met, people living in another country (Amercia; I live in Australia). I was devastated. Why would these people on the other side of the world go out of their way to malign me?

    After crying buckets of tears, I responded. I posted about it on my website. I included links. Shortly afterwards, I wised up. Why give them traffic? Why give their abhorrent writing attention? I was, effectively, giving them publicity.

    I removed all links to their works and all specific mentions of who they were. If visitors to my website wanted to track down those works, they could do it on their own time.

    I received hate mail FOR REMOVING LINKS AND MENTIONS.

    Someone went so far as to create a false identity to harass me FOR REMOVING LINKS AND MENTIONS.

    I realised I was onto a winner. If a child throws a tantrum to get a toy, don’t give them what they want because you’re reinforcing antisocial behaviour. If a child throws a tantrum to get attention, the best response is not to give attention.

    My final step in response to the ongoing harassment was to track down the person’s ISP and publicly provide their Internet Service Provider’s name and address to a fanzine page on Facebook. I said that if the behaviour continued, I’d take further action including finding out who they were, naming and shaming.

    The direct harassment stopped.

    I don’t visit those websites any more.

    One person had gone on those websites defending me. I’ve never forgotten who that person is. He’s my Knight in Shining Armor and possibly the hairiest Hugo Fan winner of all time, Chris Garcia. He deserves an award just for being a Nice Guy.

    If someone’s work offends you, leave it alone. Don’t give the work or the writer any attention. You know what they say: any publicity is good publicity as long as they get your name right.

    Give publicity to good works and good people.

  4. Brad R. Torgersen

    Mary, I thank you very much for this delightfully reasonable response. As somebody who is still relatively new to the field, I admit even I’ve been surprised to see some of the outlandish invective and threats (career threats, personal threats) being flung around. I thoroughly understand people who can make a principled argument against Sad Puppies 3. I do not expect everyone to agree with SP3. Nor do I demand agreement. What’s unfortunate is when people make it into a personal attack against myself, Larry Correia, our families, our editors, or any of the participants and suggested authors on the SP3 slate.

  5. bekitty

    Absolutely agree. Jennifer Brozek, for example, is on the Sad Puppies slate for “Best Editor – Short Form”. I think she thoroughly deserves a Hugo. Her work on the “Shattered Shields” anthology was excellent.

    And I’m definitely backing Sheila Gilbert for “Best Editor — Long Form”. I’ve heard nothing but good things about her.

  6. Cat Faber

    I am sad this needed to be said, but glad you said it!

    I think that this year has demonstrated that slates are so brutally destructive to the nominating process that they cannot be tolerated, but the way I plan to handle that is to put NO AWARD above anything on either slate in any category.

    My heart goes out to those authors who were on a slate through no fault of their own; I promise to give every work a try and if I like it, hopefully in some more auspicious, slateless year I will be able vote for their work with an undivided heart.

    We are readers and lovers of books, not barbarians; threats are no part of what we stand for.

  7. Tina M Comroe

    What is this Sad Puppies List??? I have read many of the authors listed above, but have never heard of this list…Should I bother Googling it?

  8. Calvin Dodge

    ANYONE who makes death (or other violent) threats should be exposed. If they tweet it, retweet it. If they email it, post the entire message (including headers, which help identify the actual sender). That’s pure steer poop, regardless of the target.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

      They should be reported to the police. Reporting it to the internet is going to escalate the situation. It’s a bad strategy — and I say this as someone who has received threats and harassment.

      Posting and responding leads to escalation. There are times and places where that is appropriate, but those are extraordinarily rare.

  9. Gray Rinehart

    I’m sorry you had to involve yourself in this way, and especially that you had to break an embargo to do it, but I very much appreciate your call for civility. Would that more of us could be as gracious as I have always known you to be.

    Wishing you the very best,
    G

  10. Stephanie Whelan

    Thank you! It never helps, often hurts. I don’t think death threats should ever be employed . Unless you’re Inigo Montoya.

  11. Walt Boyes

    Mary, thank you! I thought I was the only one trying to say these things. It really is about the works. So let’s vote. Let us get all our friends and families to become Worldcon attendees or supporters and VOTE.

    You have shown yourself to be a much better person than many others on the so-called progressive side.

    Being a moderately left leaning person, married to a progressive and long time feminist, I can only wonder at the invective from some anti-Puppy people, while Correia and Torgersen have been unfailingly polite and reasonable. That should tell you what is going on.

    I’m sorry Cat Faber feels compelled to hurt good quality writers, just because of the way they were nominated. But as you wish, Cat.

    What we all need to do is to stop this stupidity and vote. And if the “wrongfans” win, be gracious and accept that there are a lot of people out there that like their stuff. You do NOT get to decide what is fannish. Fandom will do that on its own.

    And as for the whispering campaign that says that Correia and Torgersen paid for sock puppets to nominate, whoever you are, just stop it. If you believe that, I have some real estate I really want to discuss with you.

  12. Jon Glenn

    Then there’s the small matter that making death threats via the internet will likely get you a visit from the Feds. And trying to carry one out against either Brad or Larry might be amusing to watch from a safe distance, it would likely not work out so well for the person doing it.

  13. BenC

    I am sure the 6′ tall former machine gun dealer,Firearms trainer and 3 Gun Competitor (look it up) is shaking in his boots from the death threats LOL !!! Really Death Treats LOL!!!!

  14. htom

    I’m so sorry others’ behavior led you to leave your break and write this; Ms. Kowal, and so glad that you did so, and did so so well. We have crossed words and ideas before, and doubtless will again, but this was wisely, kindly, and gracefully done. Thank you.

    htom

  15. Matt Jones

    It’s a very sad world where posts that focuses on “don’t threaten to kill people” have to be made. It’s along up there with “don’t rape” and “just don’t be a dick.”

    I mean really guys… Don’t be a dick.

  16. Chuck Bogardus

    Sometimes literature that disturbs one, or makes one angry, has more value than that which does nothing but bring happy thoughts of fluffy bunnies and meadows of flowers.

    Now, I’m not a “fan.” I’m a reader, and Amazon probably Really Likes Me. I’ve been reading speculative fiction for darn near 50 years. Why? It’s fun, it makes me think, and there’s a lot of diversity in it. Can you get your head around a robot’s thought processes? An insane computer? Something with two heads and serious bipolar in each? That takes some flexibility.

    When you stop being flexible, you lose something. Something important to the genre. And the genre covers everything from space operas to dystopian madness… (ever read a utopian book that ended well?)

    I think that part of what we are seeing is a reaction by the gatekeepers of the genre to the unfettered expansion that has happened with the wide acceptance of e-publishing. ZOMG, but it’s CHANGE! It’s NEW! It’s DIFFERENT! Campers, welcome to science fiction, and if you can’t handle new different change, there’s something wrong… The gatekeepers are going to have to work at things – they can’t stop the signal, so instead of opening and closing the gate, maybe they should consider becoming coolseekers? Which could be so much less uptight…

    Sometimes stuff is disturbing. Do you want a diet of only bland food? Will you happily browse accepted sites for readable soylent green? Or will you search further? Out the back door, into the other side of town, where the rusty barrels have been oozing…

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

      I think that we shouldn’t make judgements about what a person wants to read. Reading/film/music/art are, in essence, hacking our brains to produce a specific emotional reaction. The work we chose is based on the effect we want to experience within our own brains.

      Please trust that, I know my own brain well enough to know that the type of anger that I experience when reading some work is not productive.

  17. Lizbeth Phillips

    It is a shame that a fan has to point this out to other fans. So I thank you. I hope people follow your advice. I have my favorites just like everyone else, and I spend time reading good stuff because of extremely limited time outside my work.

    Acting like the folks we complain about does not help matters. There are no robots or aliens to wipe out the “bad guys” (oh, well); therefore we will either wait it out until disruptors move on and invade another group/forum or change the rules for Hugo nominations. As we all know, that move toward exclusivity can create more troubles.

    I enjoy science fiction and love sharing my young adult SF collection with students. I loaned half a dozen today to students I don’t even teach, and by sharing the “good” stuff with future fans, maybe we can influence the future of fandom. Maybe, apart from reading what is on the Hugo list, we can share what we like with other fans, share with people who are not fans (yet). Maybe that’s how we take fandom back form folks who participate for the sake of shaking things up. Just a theory, of course.

  18. Susan

    Thank you for telling people to back off in such a great fashion. I had not heard of your boks before but will begin the first one tomorrow. I love the premise and am excited I found you. Good things can come of sad puppies. I do love Larry’s books, as well as Brad and Mike Williamson. And I am excited to check out other nominees. I might not always like the books, but Larry is incredibly generous in his weekly ‘book bombs’ for new authors. And he bombed all of the short story nominees and really helped their numbers. But again, very well said, enkoy you vacation & I can’t wait to start your work tomorrow. (Because it is too late tonight if I want to sleep and I really do)

  19. Nancy Frye

    Well said! There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing with somebody, it makes for an interesting world, but wanting to attack somebody because of that disagreement is kind of crazy. Thanks for being a voice of reason in troubled times. Here’s to judging the written word on its own merits, and not on the personal life or politics of the writer.

  20. Andrew Trembley

    We should be better than this. And people who aren’t, they shouldn’t be part of “us.”

    Harassers gotta go.

  21. Peggy :)

    Mary, as usual, you rock!

    *hugs* I’m so sorry you had to come back to the Internet during your break. Hopefully good karma will be your reward. 🙂

  22. Shayla

    Tina – a few people who disagree with the trend toward a more diverse pool of nominees for the Hugos – women, non-white people, etc. – have decided to put together a slate of authors and works that are more right-leaning as a form of protest. They exhorted others to nominate the slate that they presented, the Sad Puppy Slate, and as a result of a concerted bloc of nomination that slate now dominates the final nominees for most of the awards this year. There is another, even more right-leaning slate in conjunction with this, the Rabid Puppy Slate, that has helped to dominate the award fields. Some people are happy about this, many people are not (to varying degrees of ‘not happy’ in fact). If you Google the Sad Puppies, you’ll find their proposed list of authors & works, and you can compare it to the nominees released this weekend past to see how many of the suggestions made it onto the ballots. You will also turn up a lot more explanations for the situation, most that are far more detailed than mine.

    1. Jake Freivald

      “a few people who disagree with the trend toward a more diverse pool of nominees for the Hugos – women, non-white people, etc. – have decided to put together a slate of authors and works that are more right-leaning as a form of protest.”

      This is a mischaracterization that needs to be corrected.

      The Sad Puppies disagree with the trend toward people being nominated or winning because they are seen as bringing more diversity, rather than because they wrote great stories.

      The original SP slate was supposed to be more right-wing, true, but that’s not the whole story. Here are the original reasons Larry Correia put together a slate, in his own words:


      Allow me to explain why the presence of my slate on the Hugo nominations is so controversial. This is complicated and your time is valuable, so short explanation first, longer explanation if you care after.

      Short Version:

      * I said a chunk of the Hugo voters are biased toward the left, and put the author’s politics far ahead of the quality of the work. Those openly on the right are sabotaged. This was denied.

      * So I got some right wingers on the ballot.

      * The biased voters immediately got all outraged and mobilized to do exactly what I said they’d do.

      * Point made.

      The long version can be found here: http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/04/24/an-explanation-about-the-hugo-awards-controversy/

      The most recent slate of authors and works they have presented include women, people of color, and people with diverse political opinions. They were nominated because the sad puppies thought the work was good.

      That’s all. Not terribly outlandish, when you get down to it. Whether you agree with it or not is a different issue, of course.

      1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

        Thank you for clarifying your point of view.

        Now if I can correct a misconception of yours?
        “The Sad Puppies disagree with the trend toward people being nominated or winning because they are seen as bringing more diversity, rather than because they wrote great stories.”

        Diversity and great stories are not mutually exclusive. That’s a fallacy that it really troubles me to see perpetuated. This characterization of people like me as voting based on a political agenda is incorrect. I am voting because I like the stories.

        It is true that because I am aware that I tend to read books written by white men, and that they get the lion’s share of publicity, that I actively seek books by people who do not fit the dominate social roles. Some of those I like. Some I don’t. But using that as a means of exploration to find new voices is not the same thing as voting based on politics.

    2. David Lang

      > a few people who disagree with the trend toward a more diverse pool of nominees for the Hugos – women, non-white people, etc.

      why are you ignoring how many of the people on the Sad Puppies slate are women and/or non-white?

      1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

        Because we’re reacting to the people who got on the ballot, most of whom, in the short fiction categories, are from the Rabid Puppies slate. Those two groups are being conflated because Sad Puppies championed Vox Day last year. Having invited him into your clubhouse…

    3. Laura

      I’m afraid you’ve been given some bad information. The “Sad Puppies” suggested works included works by women and by non-white authors. It’s actually a pretty diverse slate, both in the authors genetics AND in their ideological slants.

    4. Wyldkat

      People will believe what they want to, but please stop repeating opinion as if it was fact.

      “people who disagree with the trend toward a more diverse pool”

      Incorrect. It is Not a disagreement with the diversification. It is a disagreement with what we see as mind-numbing, uninspiring, bland, stories; stories that bludgeon us over the heads with messages. We want less stories like “The Badges of Her Grief” (which came across to this reader as Humans = bad.) and more like “Blue Ribbon” (which this reader sees as inspiring, with courage and perseverance we can survive). [Both of these stories on in the March 2015 issue of Analog Magazine]

      It has less to do with who the author is and much more to do with the story. In fact, this reader hardly looks at the author’s name except to see if it is someone I have read before. I read the story. If I like it, I will watch for more by that person. If I do not like it, I will try something else by that person. If I see a pattern, too many stories like Badges, and I’ll start skipping that author’s stories.

      So, can we *please* stop with the “disagree with the trend toward a more diverse” line? It is an erroneous statement.

      “exhorted others to nominate the slate” Another misinterpretation. Yes, Brad posted a list. Yes, he encouraged people to read from that list. He also says to nominate *IF* we agreed. It was understood that the unspoken/unwritten conclusion was to nominate something else if we did not agree. We understood that. It is a shame that so many others did not. The fact that many of us did not follow the list, that we added our own suggestions, should be proof, but I fear it will not be.

      So, can we *please* stop with the block voting, or variations of that, line? Again, it is erroneous. We were *not* asked, instructed, or any way exhorted to vote ONLY from that list.

      1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

        I think it’s important for people who identify as Sad Puppies to understand that, because Vox Day was invited to the club house last year, he’s still linked to your cause.

        This is particularly complicated, because he started the Rabid Puppies this year, which does exhort people to vote as a block and which did invite GamerGate in. Since he piggy-backed on the Sad Puppies slate, and added some additional names it looks like he’s part of your group.

        And the diversity issue… I’m seeing a lot of people who say they support the Sad Puppies who ARE opposed to people like me who enjoy fiction with a diverse cast. I’m being told that I’m a “nutcase” for liking it or that I only like this fiction because of a political agenda which is just… who even has time for that? I have fiction to write. The amount of time I have to read is REALLY limited. And I like stuff that’s reflects diverse voices.

        All of which is to say, that I think the narratives that people are being fed when they look at these issues aren’t very nuanced.

        1. Eric

          Mary,

          I think I understand what you’re saying in this reply, and I very much agree with your original post. I’ve been mostly an observer on this ( not a voter as I don’t have time to read all the nominations this year, so that would be wrong for me to cast an uneducated ballot, ) but have engaged in some conversation as well.

          However, I think your point on diversity is perhaps incomplete. I’m sure you have received backlash from others due to your preferences in stories, and that is saddening to me. What’s also saddening to me, and perhaps what you’re missing, is that I and many others receive lots of backlash and acidic words because we don’t explicitly demand diversity in our stories. Please allow me to elaborate.

          It’s not that I’m unaware of certain societal imbalances in real life, it’s that I don’t expect them in my literature if they don’t notably affect a character, setting, or story. I see this as trimming the excess and fat off the story to keep the flow and pacing, something you talk about in Writing Excuses. If the story is made better because a character happens to be gay, female, black, brown, or queer, then include it. The key is to make that inclusion meaningful. Make it real, make it believable. However, when such things are included, to use the vernacular, just to check off a list or to score points with some political crowd ( anywhere on the spectrum, ) most often the story suffers. They come through as heavy-handed, lazy, or downright as “WTF” moments that remind the readers they’re just reading a book and not experiencing another world. It is possible to weave a moral or message into literature, but it must be masterfully done. It’s also possible to toss in little snippets here and there to serve as flavoring, or interesting facts to help define a setting. But between those points I feel it becomes like the uncanny valley where you feel something is wrong but you’re not always sure what it is.

          My favorite example right now is the character of Nick Fury. In Marvel’s universe now, he’s black. To that I say, “so what.” Fury’s skin color has little to nothing to do with his character. He’s a soldier, a leader, a tactician, and a patriot who wants to do whatever he can to protect his country and, ultimately, his world. They could make his skin mauve or chartreuse for all I care and it wouldn’t bother me so long as the character stayed true to his values and motivations. Perhaps Marvel made the change primarily for “diversity’s sake alone.” I don’t know because Nick has stayed doing his usual thing and doesn’t bring up his skin color much, so it doesn’t come off as preachy.

          While you may not say “diversity for diversity’s sake alone,” others do. It is against those people, some of which are very vocal, that most of us Puppies are campaigning against. I think a lot of people get hung up on racial, ethnic, and gender diversity when it often doesn’t matter. It wouldn’t be too hard to write a whole book where no skin colors were even mentioned, and I’m sure some have already been written. If you’re careful with pronouns, you could also write a book where gender was never mentioned ( again, I wouldn’t be surprised if this has already been done as well. ) To repeat myself, if you include it, make it matter. Don’t tell me it matters, MAKE it matter in the story.

          Puppies simply want the story to be the first priority and for awards to be granted on quality alone. Of course “quality” is subjective, and as you’ve rightly said, something that I loathe may very well be enjoyed by many others. And that is the whole point to get people involved: to vote and discus. That even includes some writers that you may personally dislike.

        2. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

          Thank you for commenting. I’m going to start, if you don’t mind, by pointing out an internal inconsistency in your argument.

          It’s not that I’m unaware of certain societal imbalances in real life, it’s that I don’t expect them in my literature if they don’t notably affect a character, setting, or story. I see this as trimming the excess and fat off the story to keep the flow and pacing, something you talk about in Writing Excuses. If the story is made better because a character happens to be gay, female, black, brown, or queer, then include it. The key is to make that inclusion meaningful.

          And then later.

          My favorite example right now is the character of Nick Fury. In Marvel’s universe now, he’s black. To that I say, “so what.” Fury’s skin color has little to nothing to do with his character.

          So, it seems that you don’t really require it to be “meaningful” to have a diverse character.

          Nor do I. In fact, I think stories in which plot elements hinge on a character’s otherness are usually problematic because it then makes that character’s only reason for existing be BECAUSE they are different. Now– this is not the same thing as saying that all characters should be written exactly the same.

          Take a look at Nick Fury again. Yes. The fact that he is black does not affect the plot. The fact that Samuel L. Jackson is playing the character DOES affect how the character delivers the lines, which are often not the way a white man would say them. This is where the realism you are looking for comes from. The actor is bringing his own life experiences to the role.

          And here is how diversity — which is about more than just race — should be handled, by recognizing that everyone has different life experiences and it affects the way they approach the conflicts in a story. To use a simple, non-loaded example. I’m 5’7″. My husband is 5’11”. There’s a shelf in our kitchen that I can’t reach, so I have to use a grabber to get stuff down. He doesn’t. A story in which I complained about “Oh! If only I could be four inches taller!” and every plot point hinged around those four inches would be dull and preachy. But acknowledging the disparity in our heights and that it means I have to approach conflicts differently that isn’t. (Though granted, a story about a box of cornmeal that’s just out of reach is pretty lackluster.)

          Which brings me to my last point, which is actually one of the first things you said, and a point you returned to.

          If the story is made better because a character happens to be gay, female, black, brown, or queer, then include it.

          This is going to be uncomfortable, but bear with me, because this idea isn’t your fault. I used to have the same idea. I avoided mentioning a character’s race unless it was “important.” The problem is that this then defines White and Straight and Male as the defaults and preferred states in fiction. It does that because it doesn’t demand that we answer that question for the white, straight, male characters. “Will this story be made better if my main character is a white man? Will it be better if he’s straight?”

          When we start with that as a default setting, especially when we then don’t follow-up by examining the assumption, it leads to a lot of fiction that has the same cast of characters. This, in turn, can lead to people feeling shut out because they are being told that they are not “important” enough to include in a story. Do you see what I mean? If I’m writing a story and I say that I’m only going to include a person of colour if it’s “important” then what I’m also saying is that in every other case they are not important. They are not as valued as the default state of straight, white male.

          But ultimately, what it boils down to, for me, is that it’s not about adding “Diversity for the sake of diversity” but about removing homogeneity for the sake of realism. The world is full of interesting, diverse, and amazing different life experiences. I want fiction that embraces and celebrates differences. Those are what make people interesting.

        3. Wyldkat

          “Vox”

          So, all of us who registered for WC because of SP3 are to be damned for the actions of one man? Even if we do not know who he is, or what he allegedly did?

          “I’m seeing a lot of people who say they support the Sad Puppies….”

          Funny you should say that. I have been a fan of SF/F for over 40 years but now some are saying that my voice, and others like me, should not count because we registered for World Con for the first time this year; that we are the wrong kind of fan because we do not go to conventions. Some are saying we are wrong-headed (or worse) just because we like writers that they hate.

          -sigh- There is enough mud (and hate) being thrown around.

          Here is my opinion: this sand-box is big enough for all of us. My love of SF is no less than anyone else’ simply because I cannot make it to the conventions. My love is no less because I was ignorant until this year. My love is no less than anyone else’ simply because I may like a different kind of SF.

          In all honestly, if someone like myself, an unknown, put together something like Sad Puppies, it would have gone unnoticed except by a small handful of people. We all share stories, books, art, websites, we like and we encourage our friends to check them out – and if there are awards coming up, we encourage them to vote for those stories, books, art, websites.

        4. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

          @Wyldkat. I hope that by this point I’ve made it clear that I do not condone the shaming of fans for what they love.

          What I was attempting to do was to explain why people are angry. There’s some background and context to it that is easy to miss if you come in mid-stream. It is unfortunate that two disparate groups of people are being lumped together. So I’m trying to help people understand that it’s not that simple. The “Sad Puppies are all racist” argument is as fallacious as the argument that “Social Justice Warriors reward diversity not good story-telling.”

  23. Brodder

    All that matters is this, “Is it a good story.” and “Was I entertained.” Lastly, “Was this work representative of Science Fiction or Fanstasy.”

    All else is dross. Circus.
    More people are now interested and involved in the Hugos? Great.
    But it might be “Slate” voting. Solution- Get more people involved. Get more fans to subscribe to WC and Vote what they like. What entertained them that year. What they think is the best in Science Fiction and Fantasy that year.
    Get so many people involved that any chance of block voting by small communities no longer matters.
    Make the Rockey Fly High once again. Let it Roar through the Skies and be seen once again as the pinnacle of the best in Science Fiction and Fantasy.
    Let the Hugo Winner label mean that this piece, this story, this person deserved your attention and that book or magazine is worth a portion of your income and time to read again, this and next year and forever.

  24. Edmund R. Schubert

    What a horrible state we’ve arrived at when such a thing even needs to be said, and what a reliably gracious person you are for stepping up and saying it, Mary.

    Thanks for (once again) stepping up. Leadership by example is always the most powerful kind.

  25. Mike

    Sad Puppies got me to buy a Hugo voter’s packet for the first time — just because I’m excited about reading the Sci Fi. No, I didn’t nominate anything. I intend to read every single item submitted, though, and take my vote seriously.

    Sorry you had to break your vacation to tell idiots to stop being idiots. The internet lynch mob needs to be stamped out, no matter who they fix their pitchforks on.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

      I want to be clear, that I think people’s anger is valid and that there is nothing wrong with expressing that anger. Crossing the line into harassment, hate mail, or threatening people is not okay.

  26. Kevin J. Anderson

    Thanks for this, Mary. I’ve worked as a pro in the field for more than 25 years and this is my first Hugo nomination. I used to dream about that day and never imagined that I, or Jim Butcher, or many of the others on the ballot would be offhandedly branded White Misogynist Male Pigs just because someone they disagree with *also* happened to like our books (which are pretty solidly non-political). I wanted to believe our work would be judged on its own merits.

  27. Susan B

    I’m sorry you had to come off of a (well-deserved) internet embargo for this.

    That said, as someone who’s so…just *sad* that the fandom that I love is being so nasty to itself (from both sides, mind) that I’m close to washing my hands of the whole thing, thank you for coming out as a voice of decency.

    I have unpopular opinions. Always have. And I’m not always quiet about them when confronted. Just my nature.

    But. But. Fandom, especially SF, has always been a place where I’ve felt safe debating ideas without it collapsing into name-calling nastiness. And even if I don’t convince anyone that I’m right, and they don’t convince me either, we can still part as friends who disagree.

    And if Fandom doesn’t get back to those (fairly simple) principles, I’m going to have to walk away from something that has been a huge part of my life since I was in grade school.

    Which is sad.

  28. Kari Sperring

    Thank you. Death threats never help.
    Sheila Gilbert has no online presence — she simply doesn’t do the internet. She had no knowledge of this and was not notified by either sort of puppy about their intention to use her name. She’s emailed several of her writers to confirm this. She is in no way associated with these people and their beliefs: indeed, she’s very supportive of diverse writers, feminist writers, QUILTBAG writers and is politically liberal.

  29. Nalini Haynes

    “Everyone has to handle things their own way, but… I will submit that automatically going to NO AWARD is a slippery slope.”

    Last year in Victoria, Australia, one person managed to get shortlisted for 3 awards (the Chronos Awards are the local equivalent of the Hugo Awards in that they’re SFF and people’s choice). This person was the only nominee in 2 categories and one of (I think) 5 for Best Novel. He and his (small press, locally-based) publisher have historically lobbied for people to vote for him. (In a previous year, the publisher specifically asked me to vote for him although I hadn’t read the book nor received a review copy.) 4 Chronos awards were dropped off the ballot in 2014 because of insufficient nominations.

    There was a furore, with some people saying they know they were nominated for “best short story” (for example), but weren’t included on the ballot as shortlisted.

    Of the 3 awards for which this person was shortlisted, “No Award” won one. One award was not given; I assume “No Award” won that too. And he won Best Novel.

    FYI: if you’re shortlisted for an award, you shouldn’t be an MC at the ceremony. Just sayin’.

    This year the Chronos Awards are suspended, with organisers saying they’re going to fix the awards and garner more interest from potential voters. By suspending the awards. I don’t understand their logic but, if the awards are broken, why run them? I understand that logic.

    Factional voting is as rife in Oz as everywhere. I don’t see a solution other than personal integrity.

    However, I definitely agree with Mary that voting “no award” is a slippery slope that will quickly lead to the awards and, by extension, the entire science fiction and fantasy community being discredited. When did you last see a Golden Globe or an Oscar being given to “No Award”?

  30. Patty Wells

    I just have to weigh in here and say how much I enjoyed the, um, frank language sitting next to all the girls in their delicate gowns on your covers.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

      Heh. Yeah, the two ways you can tell I’m angry.
      1. I stop using contractions.
      2. If things continue, I start cursing.

      There’s a step three, but I almost never am pushed that far. Suffice to say that if I actually start yelling, we are so done.

  31. Old NFO

    Ms. Kowal Thank you for your honesty and making the statement you did. It is interesting to see the reaction now that the shoe is on the other foot. and law enforcement will get involved. You cannot truly hide your identity on internet, regardless of what one thinks.

    Shayla, you really need to fact check things before you put comments like “a few people who disagree with the trend toward a more diverse pool of nominees for the Hugos – women, non-white people, etc. – have decided to put together a slate of authors and works that are more right-leaning as a form of protest.” Did you even bother to LOOK at the nominees? Did you read their bios?

    The fact that the insular group that has controlled the Hugos for years has been called out for their actions and more of us ‘unworthy’ SF readers decided to get involved should make you think about what is really going on. Worldcon is less than 10,000 people total, out of an estimated 5 MILLION SF readers. Why should they be able to control who is nominated and voted on? Should we readers allow this small minority to control the award through threats, intimidation and now death threats?

    I think not. It’s time for select publishers and select individuals to be called down and the rest of us should be allowed a say… I paid my money, just like everyone else.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

      I have a couple of issues with your statement, if you don’t mind.

      1. “Worldcon is less than 10,000 people total, out of an estimated 5 MILLION SF readers. Why should they be able to control who is nominated and voted on?”
      Answer: Because the Hugo awards are given out by the World Science Fiction Convention. It’s their award. That’s why the members get to decide.

      2. “the insular group that has controlled the Hugos for years”
      Answer: Ahahahahahaha… I’m sorry. Sorry. I shouldn’t laugh BUT if you could see the schisms within this insular group– The idea that it’s a coordinated effort. I mean, I love my tribe but… coordination? Oh God. No. Really. You are give us WAY too much credit for having our shit together. It’s a herd of cats voting for fiction that they like.

      3. You objected to this: “…decided to put together a slate of authors and works that are more right-leaning as a form of protest.”
      This is why people like me have that impression.
      “Or another way to look at it, what deserving things are out there that the literati twaddle peddlers hate?” — Larry Correia
      ” For those of you who weren’t readers last year, Sad Puppies 1 was my attempt to poke the humorless literati in the eye by getting MHN a Hugo nomination.” –Larry Correia
      ” If you’re interested in doing more than blowing up the Hugo Awards…[plug to buy t-shirts]” — Vox Day

  32. Mary Frances

    Nalini Haynes, “No Award” has always been a viable option for Hugo voters; it’s part of the system the Hugo administrators use to tally votes and arrive at a winner (Instant Runoff Voting, or IRV) and has “won” in a specific category in the past, though rarely. The Oscars at least have only used an IRV system since 2010, and they have never included”No Award” on the ballot, so it isn’t exactly a useful comparison..

    In other words, I don’t think that you and Mary are talking about quite the same slippery slope. FWIW.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

      Let me be more blunt.

      If there’s a block that is large enough to get people on the ballot and they decide to vote No Award for all the work that they view as liberal, there’s a very good chance that none of the categories would get Hugos, because No Award would receive the largest number of votes.

      1. Mary Frances

        Well, yes. I thought that was your point? If I seemed to be putting other words in your mouth, I apologize. It was just that the Oscars and the Golden Globes voters (I think, on the latter) can’t vote “No Award” the way Hugo voters can, and have in the past, because that isn’t an option on the Oscar/Globes ballot. If anything, I think that that makes thinking long and hard before voting “No Award” even more necessary (especially #1 in the category). Not that I’m saying people who have decided to do that are wrong–their choice, and those I’ve read who opted for that choice so far don’t seem to be especially happy about it–but, well, if you actually have a weapon, you need to be careful before you decide to use it . . .

        1. Mary Frances

          No worries. I think I’m the one who should be apologizing–it had been a long day, and my wording was ambiguous, I realized later. May I add that I, too, am grateful you “broke” your internet vacation to make this post? It’s sad that it needed to be said–but it needed to be said . . . so thank you.

      2. Jordin Kare

        That’s not the case, and indeed it’s one of the features of the Hugo final voting scheme that it tends to prevent such bloc voting from determining the winner.

        It took only about 200 nominations to put a work on the ballot this year. As a worst-case comparison, look at the 2012 Best Editor, Long Form (2013 was exceptional because of the large attendance at LonCon; I pick BE, LF because there weren’t many ballots, and they were initially almost evenly divided.) Patrick Nielsen Hayden got 209 votes in the first round, and No Award got 64, so 200 extra No Award votes would have made No Award the winner *in the first round*. But 576 ballots listed PNH above No Award, vs. 120 that preferred No Award to PNH, so it would have taken over 450 extra No Award votes for No Award to win. There were no categories where 200 extra No Award votes would have won (although Best Fan Writer came close).

        Some people will vote No Award because the object to the SP/RP manipulation of the nomination process. But you can also vote No Award just because you don’t think any of the nominees are actually the best the field has to offer. The SP/RP folks have always had that option, and the rest of us have it this year.

  33. Ritchie

    Thank you for making a statement about this controversy. I needed to hear what a Hugo winner I respected had to say about this. And yes, I do agree that while I’m outraged at what Correia et al did, and for the terrible excuse of a reason they did it, that’s no reason to send death threats or other threats of harm. That’s not the right way to respond, however much you disagree with them. I’m just worried that less cool heads will react in a way that harms the decent authors on their slate (especially Jim Butcher) who don’t share the same bigoted or misogynistic political perspectives.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

      I think people are being sincere when they say that they are not approaching this with a deliberately bigoted and misogynistic agenda. (At the same time, I know that it’s very easy to have inherited prejudices without being aware of it, because it’s embedded into the framework of our society.) My point being, that I think we need to be careful about making assumptions about why people nominated works. For many people, it’s just because they liked the fiction.

      This is even more complicated because the movement HAS attracted a subset of people who really are hatefully, deliberately bigoted, misogynist, and generally awful. But if we apply those labels to people who just voted for fiction that they liked, even if it’s not stuff we liked, then that’s just going to alienate them and make no one happy.

      1. Wyldkat

        “people are being sincere when they say that they are not approaching this with a deliberately bigoted and misogynistic agenda …”

        Thank you! It is refreshing to hear/read that. 🙂

        “..the movement HAS attracted …”

        Personally, I believe that any movement [religion, politics, social movement, you name it], regardless of side or intent, has its extremes, what I call wing-nuts. And if those wing-nuts spout off enough, more are attracted. But are we right to damn the whole apple just because it has a bad spot?

  34. Christopher Daley

    Anybody who makes a threat of violence or death should be reported, arrested, charged, and convicted. It is ridiculous that this happens and ridiculous you have to post for people not to. Thank you for doing so.

    I was angered by the Sad Puppy/Rabid Puppy slate and block voting. I think many of the writers they picked are fine writers but I can see the writing on the wall. The award will turn into a battlefield as opposed to picking your favorite piece of fiction. I am hoping the Hugo can survive this.

  35. Walt Boyes

    I’d really like you to consider that many of the writers you profile as bigoted and misogynistic actually write with diverse characters. This is not about diversity. This is about good writing and storytelling. But unless you actually read the works, you wouldn’t know.

    Read the works. Vote your conscience. Don’t change the rules.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

      1. When you say “writers you profile as bigoted and misogynistic” are you speaking to me directly?

      2. It’s totally possible to have a diverse cast and still be bigoted. Or be progressive and have an all-white cast. It’s not the appearance of the character, it’s what you do with them. So, we do agree that it’s about good writing and good storytelling. Where we might differ is in the kinds of fiction we enjoy.

  36. Walt Boyes

    I believe you said it, Mary. Perhaps I misunderstood. But we violently agree about good writing and good storytelling.

    I am really unsure about your statement that it is possible to have a diverse cast and still be a bigot. I’m not sure you mean what that says. It unfortunately sounds too much like what happened with Albert Chu commenting on Brad Torgersen’s family picture: “Brad Torgersen with a shield and another shield.” I sincerely hope I am wrong.

    The other thing I would have to take issue with here is the widespread belief that it is progressives versus conservatives. Most of the people who have literally libeled Brad Torgersen are not acting like progressives. They are acting like Stalinists trying to control art.

    There has been a campaign for years to label Baen as reactionary, bigoted and , racist and sexist. Of course this is arrant nonsense, as anyone in the profession knows full well. Somebody today depicted Eric Flint as a reactionary racist. Just because of his association with Baen. This sort of thing goes on all the time, from the progressives. It has made this left liberal really upset.

    My wife and I were on a diversity panel recently, and we were attacked. I was attacked because I suggested that the way to getting more diverse stories read was to write diverse stories that lots of people wanted to read. My wife, Joy Ward, who has feminist cred (ask Lee Martindale) seeping out of her pores, was told she wasn’t a feminist, and was a reactionary, because she didn’t instantly agree with the party line.

    What nonsense!

    I am glad that there are people like you who are sensible and who can discuss these things without resorting to calumny and, well, shit-slinging.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

      You’d have to point to where I profiled anyone, so I know what you’re talking about I’m afraid.

      Okay– Now, onto the point about how it’s possible to have a diverse cast and still be bigoted. I’m going to start with an extreme example by way of demonstration, and then get into the nuances.

      The film “Birth of a Nation” had a diverse cast of characters, some of whom were played by African-American actors. Some of whom were white actors in blackface. It presents the founding of the KKK as a heroic movement.

      Bear with me, I know I’m picking a deliberately extreme example, and I’m not picking it to say that [x] writer is the D.W. Griffith of SF.

      The reason I’m pointing to this film is that it demonstrates that having a diverse cast doesn’t stop the bigotry, it’s what you do with that cast. ALSO that sometimes a writer will say that a character is black, but hasn’t actually done the research to back it up so are essentially doing written blackface.

      Now, a less egregious example is Disney’s “Song of the South” which wanted to share these stories and share them in a positive light. Again, a diverse cast of characters. But during the course of telling those stories, the film reinforces a lot of negative stereotypes about people of colour. The film is racist, but the intention behind it is not.

      So this is why someone who WANTS to write something diverse, and includes a wide cast of characters can still end up with something that reflects bigotry.

      Frequently, this isn’t directly their fault. It’s because they are repeating patterns and tropes that they have grown up with. I’ve done this myself even when I’ve been consciously trying not to do so.

      So one reason that people like me find something lacking in stories that don’t reflect a diverse population, is because I look at it and recognize the laziness in the writing. I recognize it because I’ve fallen into the same trap myself. It’s a trap of not exploring my own defaults and assumptions and repeating those in my fiction.

      It’s really, really hard to break out of that cycle, but I think it leads to better fiction in the long run.

      So starting by having a diverse cast is great, but it’s not enough in and of itself. It still comes down to the storytelling and what you do with those characters.

      1. Barb Caffrey

        This makes sense to me. But I figured that was likely your worldview, from reading your work to date. I especially thought you did a wonderful job with Jane’s struggles with acceptance over her eventual brother-in-law, an Irish Catholic at a time Irish Catholics were very much discriminated against. You did not take the easy road at all — you showed Jane being, for lack of a better term, racist, and then thinking better of it, the more she knew about her soon-to-be-BIL.

        Anyway, I agree with you. I want to read stories that challenge me, challenge my assumptions, and I want to read stories that are interesting and make me think. If they have humor and wit and a great and well-thought-out world behind it, so much the better…and usually, to get those things, you need a well-rounded cast of characters with at least a little diversity.

        Or so it seems to me at the unGodly hour of 3:00 a.m.

  37. Ian Monroe

    Aren’t we down that slope already? We can’t pretend this ballot comes from anywhere but two guys who hate WorldCon and everything it stands for. I understand your sentiment – sort of a “vote for the nominees as I’d like people to vote or not vote for my work”. But this is an attack on our community and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise.

    I’ll be voting a strict http://deirdre.net/the-puppy-free-hugo-award-voters-guide/ ballot unless something happens between now and voting. I’ll be ok with 2015 not giving any awards if that is what it comes to.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

      Everyone has to make their own choices. Where it started almost doesn’t matter — not quite, but almost — because it is beyond that now. Yes, Larry started it as a way to pretty openly say FU to WorldCon. But there are also a significant number of people who are voting simply for the work that they love. I don’t think shutting them out is appropriate.

      Now — having said that — there are two people on the ballot that I’m going to vote No Award for, without reading their work, because I find their actions reprehensible and that also reflects in their fiction.

      But other folks? I’ll give them a try, because I refuse to turn the Hugos into something that is just about politics.

  38. LL

    Agreed. I wish more people had said the same when RH was shouting her vitriol from the rooftops.

  39. Barb Caffrey

    Mary, thank you so much. I mean it.

    I don’t really understand what is going on — I’ll be honest — because I’ve been head-down in making revisions to my second novel, along with editing a few other people’s stuff. That has taken precedence over nearly everything else, so while I was vaguely aware of SP3, I had *zero* idea RP was out there.

    Then friend started fighting friend, fans started getting upset with fans, nasty verbiage was spewed, and the peanut gallery went wild.

    Here we are, SF&F fans and writers and editors, and we have more in common with each other than not. Yet we’re fighting over who, apparently, is the more loyal SF&F fan or who is the more knowledgeable SF&F fan…I can’t figure out which…and small press authors and indie authors who normally would never get a shot finally have one, yet rather than anyone celebrating *that*, we have friend fighting friend and fan fighting fan, and nasty stuff going all over the Internet.

    That’s why I’m so happy you called for sanity. I mean it. Because we need it.

  40. Benjamin

    Is there a source for what started this? I’d like the stories and books I like to be nominated. Has the Hugos devolved into judging the writers’ politics instead of the stories?

    Anne Leckie deserved the best novel Hugo last year and I will read the novels this year and decide.

  41. Yamamanama

    Vox stalked my friend via my Youtube favorites and posted some videos she made in an attempt to humiliate her. She’s a kind, idealistic, and very talented woman and she did nothing to deserve Vox’s harassment.

    It may not be the shittiest thing Vox ever said or did, but it’s a deeply personal gripe.

      1. Tapetum, Raddled Harridan

        The second half of my pseudonym, which I only use occasionally, but wear proudly when I do use it, was given to me during the kerfluffle a number of years back when Vox decided to claim that women didn’t write hard SF, because they couldn’t hack the physics. While Catherine Asaro, trained physicist, was president of the SFWA. I think it took all of two comment exchanges before I was declared a raddled harridan, and things only went downhill from there.

  42. Walt Boyes

    Bringing this back around to the HUGOs, for a minute…Brad’s proposed slate included socialists, conservatives, centrists, libertarians, anarchists, Christians, atheists, reformed atheists turned Christian, likely Pagans, Hispanics, Native Americans, immigrants, women, men, the disabled, straights, gays and bis. He is married to an African-American woman, and they have a mixed-race daughter. Are you saying that he still could be sexist, misogynistic and racist? That doesn’t make sense. Yet that is what many people who claim to be of the left are saying.

    This is silliness.

    You said, “…people like me…” I don’t think you are different in any way from anybody else, not different from Larry Correia or Brad Torgersen, or me.

    We all have the desire to write the best we can in all ways. I find it important to write characters that the story calls for. It does not enter into my mind to deliberately write stories so that particular groups or individuals can be in them. Every time I’ve done it that way, the story has been wooden and lifeless.

    Let’s just say that we can hope the hysteria will die down.

    Read the works. Vote your conscience. Don’t change the rules.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

      You keep talking about Brad. I keep trying to talk about the Hugos and the state of the industry. This isn’t about a single person.

      But yes, it is possible to be in a mixed marriage and still be racist. (Please do not take this statement to mean that I think Brad is proudly racist, which is an opinion that people seem really determined to put into my mouth.) It is possible in the same way that it is possible for a man to be married to a woman and be misogynist. It is even possible for a man to truly love his wife, and still carry the baggage of a misogynist culture around with him causing him to hold women as weaker, inferior creatures. Loving an individual is not the same as thinking that the class/category is your equal.

      You said, “…people like me…” I don’t think you are different in any way from anybody else, not different from Larry Correia or Brad Torgersen, or me.

      But clearly, I am not like you or we wouldn’t be having this argument. I have different views; I have different life experiences; I have different values; I have different cultural expectations. I think if we were all the same, that the world would be a poorer and less interesting place. The differences between us are what I find interesting and compelling.

  43. Will Shetterly

    Mary, yes, nice people can be racist, but it’s really hard to be a racist and a miscegenist at the same time. I don’t know if you’re in the “all white people are racist” camp, but the results of Project Implicit and other studies disagree with you. Suggesting there may be any inequality in anyone’s marriage without the slightest hint of evidence is, well, not charitable.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

      Will… Seriously, did you read anything I wrote? I AM NOT SAYING THAT BRAD TORGERSEN IS RACIST. For fuck’s sake, will people stop trying to bend my words to say that.

      What I am saying, strictly and only, is that pointing to someone’s spouse as the ONLY example for how they are not “-ist” in some way does not at all mean that they aren’t. And “really hard” does not equal impossible. Jesus H. Christ on a Pogo stick, use a little rigor in your arguments and stop trying to pick a fight by inventing opinions for people.

      1. Will Shetterly

        If you’re willing to use a little rigor here, why do you feel obliged to argue that someone in a mixed marriage might be racist? When you hear someone claim something, do you automatically point out that some people lie? Context matters. We’re not talking about the general principle. We’re talking about two people who have had a long and loving marriage. Why doubt them?

        1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

          Because I don’t think Brad’s marriage should be relevant to the discussion of the Hugos. I HATE that people keep trying to drag his personal life into this and that people keep using his wife and child as weapons. That’s a horrible thing to do to someone. He has said that he usually doesn’t talk about them or post photos to respect their privacy. I’m trying, desperately, to respect that boundary.

          Which means that, as much as possible, I’m going to talk about issues without talking about individuals.

          I mean, seriously, I disagree with Brad about many, many things, and I know that he holds me in contempt, but I’ve also been in the crossfires of the internet before and it sucks. I’m unwilling to do that to anyone except in a few very, very rare cases. This is not one.

          This is your notice that future attempts to continue bringing Brad’s marriage into the conversation will not be let through.

  44. Stephanie Wood Franklin

    Thank you for this. I was at Norwescon when the final ballots were announced, and was basically surrounded by people who were Angry. I personally was disappointed more that some of the people I had nominated didn’t make it onto the final ballot, but this happens every year – just more so this year.

    Perhaps I’m just naive, and I’m just not paying attention, but I’m terrible with names – unless an author’s works have grabbed me to the extent that they become instant-purchases (such as yourself), then I’m not likely to even follow their online presences, and so I don’t know the politics that aren’t explicitly stated in their works. My plan this year is to read all the things and evaluate and vote for the things that interest me. In some circles, this means I fail as a feminist/queer/woman of color. I say it means I’m a reader first.

  45. Robert L. Slater

    Mary,
    Thank you for saying this. I forwarded your post into my social circles because of the many posts that I have read and agreed with, it was the most polite and humane.

    I also enjoyed your description today of your decent into anger. I have talked my students through my own similar transformation. The ones who have been with me a few years know, when my tone lowers, I smile and I begin speaking carefully that we are steps away from the profanity/yelling phases. Besides being a teacher, I was also a theatre major and am a father of six. I can be louder than most rooms of people.

    But I don’t enjoy it. It’s the ______ist comments thatset me immediately from 0 to 60 on the anger scale.

    Thanks again for being a voice of reason,
    Rob

  46. Barb Caffrey

    Mary, I have one more thought, if I may — do you think some of the anger from the (for lack of a better word) “traditionalist” side is because at least one very worthy novel, Emily St. John Mandel’s STATION ELEVEN, didn’t make the final Hugo slate?

    I haven’t had time to review it yet over at Shiny Book Review, but that was by far the best book I read in 2014. It’s lyrical, humanist, honest, interesting, poignant…can’t say enough about that book. (I have to make some time to review that novel. Soon.)

    I’m just wondering if some of the anger over the “Sad Puppies” slate is because of that one novel. I know GRRM was a big fan as well, and it seems like that’s one reason he is upset…and Ms. Mandel, not too long ago, was a small press author. So this would’ve been a big leap for her visibility. (Now I, as a reader and fan, have to hope it happens when the Nebulas are announced instead.)

    Anyway, I have friends on both sides of this fight. I’ve had at least one friend walk away ’cause another of my friends was nominated for the JWC Award (something he didn’t expect the RPs to support, for sure; he had nothing to do with that). I don’t have any answers.

    But this question did occur to me, and I wondered if you thought this novel (or maybe another one out there that’s perhaps equally thought-provoking) might have something to do with all of this?

  47. Mick

    As someone who supports what the SPs are doing (and genuinely enjoys the authors), thank you for a reasoned, measured take on the subject. I got here from Sara Hoyt’s FB page, so the SP participants themselves are noticing too. Thanks for being a voice of reason, and attempting to show that their can be such a thing as amicable disagreement.

  48. Ken M

    But he would just like to have a civil conversation about your statement.

    http://wondermark.com/1k62/

    Also amusing that for a professional writer, he can’t seem to understand that “He’s not a proud racist” does not necessarily mean “He’s a shy racist.” Words don’t work that way.

    Or more likely he does understand, but actually thinks the logical equivalent of “When did you stop beating your wife?” is a good debate tactic.

    (Also, I can’t help it, but “He’s a shy racist” sounds like a bad emo song written on the back of someone’s notebook during Algebra class.) 🙂

  49. Gary Henderson

    I plan to read as many of the works as possible and judge them on their own merits, doing my level best not to let politics (SFWA or otherwise) force its slimy, disgusting way into it. Only in the event that an award has NO nominees with any redeeming quality will I consider “No Award.” This will be my second WorldCon. The first one was in 2013, and I remarked to someone after the Hugos that it was the only awards ceremony I ever game a damn about because it’s the only one that I have a (admittedly vanishingly small) chance at ever receiving. To see it devolve into “I’m just going to go home and I’m taking my ball, too!” makes me very sad.

    I just hope they get the packets out ASAP because I’m a slow reader.

  50. Robert L. Slater

    Gary,
    I agree with everything you said, except I’m a fast reader with very little time to read. Good to see this kind of attitude. I just ordered my pre-supporting for 2016. I didn’t nominate this year because I hadn’t read enough. I WILL nominate with my heart next year.
    Thanks,
    Rob

  51. Abby Goldsmith

    Right on!!! There is so much vitriol on this topic, and a “guilty-by-association” attitude which is pathetic. Judge each person on their own merits or detriments. Please, no death threats.

  52. David Hickenbotham

    I’m a long-time fan of Writing Excuses, but I just wanted to weigh in on the Hugos.

    Some authors have spoken about how the Sad Puppies have broken the awards. The process has been flawed for a long time. The Sad Puppies just exploited that flaw. (But in trying to be objective, I can see both sides. It’s hard for me to disagree with the Sad Puppies, who say that it had already been exploited and they are just exploiting it, too.)

    The award isn’t too dissimilar from the Academy Awards (where a small group of professionals in the industry pick their favorite movie or actor based mostly on their performance) or the Olympics (where a small group of judges, often former athletes, pick their favorite figure skater based mostly on their performance). We as a population either agree with them, or we say they got it wrong. The judges try to do it based on an agreed set of criteria, but being human, they are subject to their own agendas. People have a very difficult time being completely objective, and I”m not even sure that’s possible in an art like figure skating or movie making… or writing.

    As least one author has said that the Sad Puppies are trying to make the Hugo award into something that it’s not. I don’t disagree. They’re trying to make it into something akin to a People’s Choice Award rather than an Academy Award. I’m not sure it needs to be that. Isn’t that what sticking New York Times Bestselling Author on the cover of a book is about?

    As for the flaw in the Hugos, you can’t buy your way into the Academy Awards judging committee. You can’t buy your way onto being an Olympic judge. You can buy your way into being a Hugo judge.

    But to bring this back to the subject of this post, whether or not we think the Hugo judges this year get these picks right or wrong, I totally agree that death threats and hate mail are wrong. We can say they got it right. We can say they got it wrong. We can grumble. We can stew.

    And we can try to fix the system.

    But to do that, I think we need to ask ourselves one question.

    What does the Hugo Award really mean?

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

      I think it’s important to understand that there is a difference between showing a list and saying, “Here are things I like” and showing a list and saying, “I encourage those who value my opinion on matters related to science fiction and fantasy to nominate them precisely as they are.” (Vox Day)

      And while Sad Puppies 3 might be about feeling disenfranchised, its roots in Sad Puppies 1 & 2, colour the long-time Hugo voter’s perceptions of it because it started as a way “to poke the humorless literati in the eye.” (Larry Correia) While movements can evolve and change, when one starts with a goal of being annoying, it is really hard to believe later rhetoric. Particularly when that rhetoric is also saying that the fiction that I like is worthless.

  53. Lisa Hertel

    You know, HP Lovecraft was proudly antisemitic, and yet he married a Jew. I married a guy who snores, doesn’t make me any fonder of snoring…

  54. SF Book Club, London (@SFbookclub)

    I’m so glad to see that Mary has spoken out on this issue. I’ve been trying to keep an open mind on this whole #sadpuppies debacle and saddened by the vicious language uses by both sides. Death threats and harassment have no place in this community, be they from either side of this debate.

    I’ve read impassioned blog posts by Larry Correia and Brad R. Torgersen defending themselves from accusations of racism, homophobia, misogyny but to the best of my knowledge nobody has ever provided evidence of such outside of their supporting the works of writers who clearly and unapologetically hold such views. I could of course be wrong.

    I hope this new low will mark the point where the discourse of these issue can become more tolerant and less hateful.

    Please return to what you were doing.
    Your Glorious Leader ®

  55. anonymouse

    I listen to writing excuses all the time, because == awesome.
    I think you guys are truly magnificent writers (and story tellers) and I have no idea how I ended here, finding out about… what?? Sad Puppies and SJW and all sorts of acronyms that fans and writers have been angry about for the last two years and *I never knew*. Death threats?

    I feel like I’ve been transported to my own little twilight zone whilst all of this has played out.

    I get that an award is an important thing for a writer. It’s validation from other people who write things and read things. I never knew until now how important it is to have an award. And not just any award. It seems to be one specific award from one country, and one convention.

    I still want to write books. I really don’t want to play in any part of that award sandpit. Because none of it makes sense. Why would someone send a death threat because a bunch of people want to change a bunch of rules for a single award, or change the people who win them?

    I will do more reading after posting, but is this purely an American problem?

    I feel ignorant and stupid, and more importantly, I’m not sure whether I care. It feels like insanity in a sandwich. Death threats because of literarypolitic practises. What just happened??

  56. Jeremy Szal

    Thank you, Mary,

    There is absolutely NO EXCUSE, regardless of who said what, to send death threats to ANYONE. That’s on RequiresHate level. To think that people in my circles, in the circles of SF&F, are doing it, is disgusting. It shouldn’t happen, especially just because some people got mad at other people that they have the audacity to like books that they don’t like.
    It reminds me of whining children in a playground. Let’s not be like that, shall we?

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