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.

115 Responses

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Robert L. Slater

    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,

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. Ken M

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

    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.) 🙂

  11. 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.

  12. Robert L. Slater

    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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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…

  16. 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 ®

  17. 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??

  18. 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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