In 2000 my husband had a traveling job. They were sort of the Marines of computer programming. If something was irretrievably mucked up on a computer system somewhere, they sent for this company who, for a high cost, flew their guys in to perform miracles.
Some jobs took three weeks, some three months.
For most of 2000 Dan was working on the computers of a Wall Street firm.
Now, his traveling was very bad for the family, which is why he gave up that job, even though it was fantastically paid (I refer to those two years as “when we were rich.”) Our then kindergartner was crying himself to sleep, our third grader was failing, and I couldn’t sleep without Dan at home. So he sacrificed his job for us. (Of course, if we hadn’t been stupid, we’d have taken the kids with him and become nomads, living in hotel suites and teaching the kids ourselves. We didn’t know we could teach. As in, we didn’t know we would be able to. Only discovered it when we were forced to get the younger kid out of middle school. Chalk that up to “regrets I have a few.”)
In the summer of 2000 we got two friends willing to take the kids for two weeks (oh, yeah, being a functionally single parent sucks, as I’m sure all the military spouses out there know. Even if you still have the emotional support of your absent spouse) because I was so burned out. I went with Dan to NYC. We refer to this as our second honeymoon, because it was that sort of idyllic time. Mind you, he was working 12 hours a day, four days a week. But I was writing All Night Awake. In the evening, we explored funky little restaurants. And during the days he had off we went off to museums and stuff.
Only one thing marred this idyll.
You see, like many such things, it was a last minute decision. A friend said, “Oh, I can watch them” and we rushed to make arrangements. The hotel Dan had booked for himself didn’t have weekend rooms. The only hotel we could find was the Embassy Suites at World Trade Center, so new cabbies didn’t know it existed.
The hotel itself was great and I loved hanging out in the common area looking out at people going to work while I outlined chapters.
There was bed making.
It will probably surprise no one here that I sleep like a whirlwind. Actually I used to think I could never sleep with my spouse because at sleepovers my friends invariably ended up on the floor or the sofa. I apparently do a good impression a windmill. Which is why we have a California king.
Well, in this hotel – king size bed – it was worse than ever. My feet kept getting tangled, and I’d wake up with the BOTTOM sheet in a knot around me.
So on the third day I watched the maids make the bed. I don’t know where this insanity came from (we stayed there five? Six? Years ago and they weren’t doing this. It might be the hotel was so new, they had no right size sheets) but what they were doing was draping a full size sheet sideways and then putting another one on top across it, so it barely covered the top of the bed.
You should have seen it. It was epic. Portuguese with Russian accent against Russian immigrant maids.
I told them to stop that right away and get a proper sized sheet.
Instead of giving in, they told me that it was “new Russian bed making technology.” (We still use this when the kids come up with a “new” bassawkward way of doing something.)
At which point I said, yep, it’s inefficient, has the wrong parts and doesn’t work. No, it’s not more comfortable. Get the right size sheet.
Suffice to say that I stood there long enough, arms crossed, that the sheet materialized, after they realized they couldn’t convince me this was new and improved.
So, what does this have to do with anything?
Well, I pointed out on FB – note I wasn’t crying, I was PROMISING – that they really don’t want to get me p*ssed off because even I don’t know what I’ll do, but it will be creative. (I have in past, if you pushed me past what I’m willing to endure, got REALLY creative. Look, I’m not malicious mostly because I’m really lazy. Give me a reason to stop being lazy, and I can turn my mind to making you miserable.) And then someone from the other side – mind you, a hanger on with obvious mental issues – told me that I had no reason to whine. We should have thought of the consequences before we set out to destroy the Hugo. We’d made our bed and now we’d lie in it.
First of all though this person is a mentally ill hanger-on, it was clear from his other comments he was repeating what he perceived as his leaders from the other side. A lot of it was the same cr*p that appeared in the coordinated attacks on us in the mainstream media. Then there was the “set out to destroy the Hugo” something the other side keeps saying, as though they think that I would help destroy an award won by Robert A. Heinlein.
Honestly, one wonders if they believe what comes spewing out of their fingers.
So I suspect the “made your bed now lie in it” is something he heard from his “betters”, an impression corroborated by threats of doxing and swatting that have had weakly attached people on the other side trying to warn me and my friends.
And so I’m going to speak to “bed making technology.”
- Sad Puppies, if it needs to be said, didn’t set out to ruin the Hugo. It set out to restore it. As the Award that went to science fiction greats, since ever, we thought it should again mean something to the kids starting to read in the field.
I mean, right now it just isn’t a good indication. The kids who got identity politics preached at them in school don’t want to read it for fun.
And if I had a dime for every person I talk to about SF who says that “no one is writing the good stuff anymore” because they pick up a “best of” or an award anthology and find nothing they like in it, I’d be a very rich woman.
So, yes, Sad Puppies put up a slate, which since Brad was running it this year was “Stuff Brad likes.” I found it hilarious that some people were accusing Sad Puppies of malfeasance because “he didn’t put up a full slate.” I’m not even sure what the heck that meant. I mean, first we’re accusing of giving too many recommendations and getting people to vote in lockstep (I’m fairly sure no one did, and the stats will show that, but never mind. If this bunch nominated lockstep it’s the first time they coordinated anything in their entire lives.) And then they accuse us of only having a few recommends in some categories. (Rolls eyes.)
The thing is, Brad only liked a few things in each category, even with some of us making other suggestions. So fine, that’s what he put up.
And then we told our fans they could vote for these or find their own, but they should READ before they nominated anything. And we told them HOW to sign up. That was it. In fact, I didn’t nominate (despite having paid early enough to) because I hadn’t read ENOUGH due to being very ill. So I couldn’t be sure Brad’s slate was the best.
- This is not political. It would be really funny if it were. I have no clue what Larry’s politics are, except I don’t argue with him about much, and from the little I’ve heard, we pretty much agree. I suspect I’m nuttier “don’t tread on me” than he is, but he’s better armed, so…
Brad I’d qualify as soft social-democrat, which only falls under “right wing” in Portugal where “to the right of Lenin” is right wing. Oh, wait, it’s the same in SF/F, isn’t it? Never mind.
The people nominated range from anarchist to socialist and a good number of them honestly are “I have no clue.” This includes two of my personal friends, Kevin J. Anderson and Cedar Sanderson. Heck, even Amanda Green who is arguably one of my closest friends and I have never done a politics comparison. I suspect she’s more statist than I am (she’s more trusting that way) but for the rest, who knows?
That the other side thinks this is a political attack tells you that THEY have been applying a political filter to nominations and votes. Because only someone blinded by a beam in their eye can see the spec in ours.
I grew up in a country, at a time, when politics were raw and a matter of life and death. Weirdly what that meant is that you learned to carve out niches where politics didn’t enter, else life became unbearable. This means I grew up with friends of all political stripes. One of my brother’s best childhood friends and a family member to all intents and purposes was communist. Until party discipline demanded he drop us (but not my brother) we just didn’t talk politics.
I still don’t with my friends, unless they are explicitly political friends, and sometimes not then. I mean some of my best friends I made in Libertarian blogs, but we’re as likely to discuss whiskey or books as politics.
Also, because of the left dominance in the field and in all arts since forever we have ALL OF US gotten used to reading people from soft to extreme left and appreciating them around/despite that.
In rereading Simak, for instance, I was surprised at the gratuitous pot shots at “right wingers” (there will be more on this, later, in podcast. The thing is those were … less venomous than now) and “religion” and even southerners. It was always there, but I filtered it out, so I didn’t remember it. I read for the story. I still do.
Mostly we’ve gotten used to ignoring the politics of good writers.
- Sad Puppies IS about quality. And before you tell me that quality is fluid and can be seen in many different ways, let me explain.
As a fan of mine who is an art professor pointed out, what is receiving awards these days has all the markers of “high class art”. I knew that.
For those who don’t know, in my misspent youth I took a degree in languages and literature (a few degrees, among other things I have a BA from the University of Millan, taken via the consulate. I only remember it now because I found the rather impressive diploma while packing up the house.)
So I could see the “we are high literature” markers all over those stories.
But here’s the dirty little secret: “literary” unless it refers to something more than 100 years old, which has endured the test of time, is just another genre. It is full of these “I am smart and erudite” markers which add nothing to the experience, except making college professors say “wow, this is literature.”
Another dirty little secret is that “literary fantasy” (or sci fi) has the lowest sales numbers of all subgenres of F/SF. I know this because that’s where I broke in (early training, again) and I was told bluntly, while shopping for a third agent (the first I dropped after selling the first book because she’d lied to me and the second after the series crashed because he lost interest), that if I wanted to write “literary” fantasy, I needed a day job. A job teaching in college was suggested. I already had it, but I wanted to write for a living. And besides, honestly, what they told me was that “literary” almost didn’t sell. And I wanted to sell. I wanted people to read my stories. That was the whole point. So I changed. (Also I’d found writing literary was making me depressed, because it’s not natural nor fun.)
So how come it has come to dominate not just the awards but the “publisher interest” in our field?
Because other than Baen publishers are paying increasingly less (I mean 3k for a pro advance? REALLY? With the book taken out of circulation before they have to pay you royalties?) and so people have to have college jobs. And in college, being “literary” helps with reputation and tenure and all that good stuff.
And that’s what was getting awards “books that impress college professors.”
Now there is a place for this, and I read “real literature” occasionally. (I actually enjoy Borges, but if you’re not a genius, don’t try to write like him.) Though most of what I read in that is French and/or Italian and sometimes even Portuguese (though rarely, since they’ve gone the “signifiers of high lit symbols” route as well.)
BUT science fiction is not the place for this. For well written stuff, sure. For story as status symbol, no. I mean If You Were A Dinosaur My Love has all the markers of “literature” – it is also an execrably researched and plotted story and is neither fantasy nor science fiction.
Perhaps people will read science fiction as teens and then graduate to “literature” and perhaps people just wanna have fun. Or perhaps they’ll do both as I do.
BUT one thing is clear: there is a hunger for science fiction and fantasy (look at games and movies and even indie authors like Nuttall and Dandrige and our very own Peter Grant) that “literary” isn’t going to satisfy.
And why should the award that went to Heinlein and Asimov go to “post modern signifiers.” They have their own awards. Science fiction should be science fiction. (Note I’m not saying it shouldn’t evolve. Part of what I’m doing reading through the origins of our field is to note how much has changed because it NEEDED to change as people changed.)
- Sad puppies is not against message in fiction. Sad puppies is against the message trumping the fiction. Or in other words “we don’t need no education; we don’t need no thought control.”
If you think the point of reading is to have feminism or socialism preached at you, you’re missing the point of fun. Also, if you think that these messages are new and wonderful, you must have skipped school K-12 or be older than MY fifty years.
We object to conventional messages, preached in a conventional way and designed only to curry favor with an increasingly calcified establishment.
- Sad Puppies IS revolutionary. Because for years the establishment has been this sort of coagulum of the “shock value” of New Wave and the dregs of “revolutionary Marxism” now infused with the militant misandry of the 4th generation Marxists and “literary markings” of “academic literature”.
This was reflected in what won awards and in the direction of buying from big publishing houses. (Yes, they also bought low brow, they had to survive. But what they trumpeted were these “literary darlings”)
Like all TRUE revolutionary movements we are grass roots and chaotic.
Yes, there was a suggested slate, and I know, just from the people who asked me if they could nominate this or that of mine that the individualists failed to organize.
Even the ones who asked couldn’t agree on which story of mine to nominate.
So, the slate simply called attention to some works and the people who got on the ballot simply attracted more grass roots votes. Where this coincides with the Sad Puppies slate it’s almost a miracle. (And that the people who accuse us of lockstep slate also accuse us of somehow being guilty for letting Vox in, tells you a lot. More on that later.)
- Sad Puppies is not responsible for the universe.
The people who accuse us of being in league with gamer gate are just echoing Empress Teresa’s nutty slander. (She probably sees Gamer Gate under her bed, and it’s the Gamer Gate of Law and Order.) For one SP 1 was long before Gamer Gate and if Larry has a time machine and hasn’t shared – the bastage – we’re going to have words, even if he has way many more guns than I do. (Perhaps he found it on the… “Dark Net” — cue ominous music.)
The evidence for this seems to be that Larry welcomed gamer gaters to one of his post updates. Yes, he did. Because the other side’s shrieking and hollering got their attention and they started coming around to see what this was all about.
I’m not a gamer. My kids are. Bluntly if you attract gamegaters, you’re going to get trounced not by 500 votes but by 10k ones. They are much bigger in numbers than we are and more willing to drop money on things, just to upset people. Fortunately most of them don’t care that much about written sf/f, so we get to play in our little sandbox.
Yeah, there are some crossovers, like Daddy Warpig, but they are a minority who like both games and written SF/F. Is this forbidden now? Are they wrongfans having having wrongfun?
I refer you to my middle fingers for an answer to that. You’re not the boss of us. You’re not the boss of anyone. And you don’t get to tell anyone how to have “correct fun.” I’m sorry, that’s over.
- Sad Puppies is not Rabid Puppies.
This is the favorite accusation of the establishment, that we are “allied” with the blogger I call VD so as not to attract trolls screaming about nothing else. Yep, he was banished from SFWA. Yep, he’s the most hated man in the SF establishment. Yep he put up his own slate, whose logo looks like SP. Yep, he paid the artist to modify the SP logo for his use. Nope we don’t care.
Some of us think he’s a shock artist and sort of roll our eyes at him. At any rate, we were not in collusion with him. No, we didn’t leave openings so he could slip in. We left openings so ANY ONE ELSE’S NOMS could slip in, but mostly because our “slate” was “things Brad likes” and we can’t make Brad like exactly five things or however many (I didn’t nominate, remember?) per category.
My opinion on Vox is the same I’ve repeated over and over on FB “He is not my problem. He’s annoying but not more annoying or nuttier than about half the people in SF/F. You don’t want him in? You have issues with him? Great. YOU STOP HIM. Not my circus, not my flying monkeys.” I won’t lift a finger to stop you. I also won’t lift a finger to stop him. Again NOT MY CIRCUS. I don’t have a dog in this fight. I am not required to fight battles on the “correct side.” My battle is different and my answer to YOUR specific battle is as follows “A plague on BOTH your houses.” (Yes, I protested his expulsion because it was extralegal and because SFWA shouldn’t be in the business of judging moral/political or any other kind of purity. It’s supposed to be working for professional writers, even those in jail for murder. Opening the can of worms of “purity testing” then led to the Resnick Malzberg debacle. And it has diminished the association. It is possible to stand on principle without liking either of the sides.)
In the end, the establishment has created an SF/F field that was all about politics, purity tests and the genetics of the writer. If the story mattered it was only insofar as it showed or didn’t show “literary” markers.
Now, this new “bed making technology” might suit many people fine. And it allows them to make much of the paltry small sheets they have. And perhaps people didn’t complain and metaphorically speaking just booked another hotel.
It’s not a coincidence in this metaphor that Sad Puppies has the help and allegiance of two people of Portuguese descent and was started by a Portuguese. Metaphorically speaking, we’re the crazy Portuguese chick, maddened by two nights of no sleep, standing over the maids going “There hasn’t been new bed making technology since Ogg invented the bed. Now go find the right sheets and stop short-sheeting me.”
The bed we are trying to make is not political; it is not restrictive, either. You want to continue the spotlight on literary fiction? Fine, you make your slate, you tell your fans, you push what you like. If more people like it, it will win.
The game is open to everyone, as it should be.
Because in the end this is not about the will of a few “taste makers.” What should win awards is what the fans want period.
There are no wrongfans. There is no wrongfun.
People vote for what they like, and if they are opening their wallets to vote for what they like, great. Then the new people coming into the field will know what to read.
Fan involvement is the key.
This is not the playground of the powerful and privileged few. It is OUR playground, and in this case by “our” I mean the playground of those who love science fiction.
And if that hampers some academic careers, too bad, so sad.
They can always create yet another award for them, like the half dozen that already exist.
Hugo Gernsback was pulp. He was what people liked to read. His award should be for what people like. No more no less.
Beds? Threats of swatting?
Get a grip on reality. The more you sneer and the more you threaten, the more likely you are to turn the cry of “just another wrongfan having wrongfun” into “aristo, aristo, to the lamppost.”
Now that’s a bed I’d not like you to make.