Awards, Money and Writing, oh, My


Sometimes I’m thick like two four by fours nailed together.

It’s a very specialized form of stupidity, mind you.  There is only one category of things I can’t seem to get easily.  However that category is “Stupid sh*t people believe and do” which means it affects an awful lot of things in all areas of life.

This particular bit of “wait, what?” came in an epic facebook subthread on a David Weber post.

Oh, it was the usual we’ve seen over the years with a troll accusing Sad Puppies of racism, sexism, homophobia and us asking him what the hell sense that makes.

On the face of it it makes none.  It wasn’t our intent, or what we set out to do, which in Larry’s case was deviously “proving the awards are biased by making the fools react and show their hand.” (Mission accomplished with the assterisk thing, the no award, and the changing the rules to make sure massed fans never have a voice louder than the inner clique.  Well done indeed.) Brad Torgersen wanted to save the award from itself, and restore it to “a fan award.”  He was thwarted by having people like Anderson and Butcher, who would have given the award new prestige shot down by the “no award” crowd.  Me?  I just wanted the award to mean something other than “terminally literary” (which these days also usually means terminally lefty) so maybe “award winner” could provide people with a to-read list.  I thought this would be important going forward, in a mostly indie world, where it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.

And yet people on the left side of science fiction and those who’d been getting awards kept lobbying the same accusations against me and mine.  Actually the lefty controlled organs still do.  We’re seeing a late echo of this in attempts to ban people they deemed were “puppies” even those who weren’t, like David Weber. And most places including the wikipedia page on the subject propagate the lie that we were white supremacists, and against minorities, women and gays writing science fiction.

Note they don’t say winning the awards (that could be justified because we said we didn’t want you to win an award just because you fit a victimhood class, or even preferentially because you fit a victimhood class, but they were saying we didn’t want any of these people to write science fiction.)

This was the most absolute and complete nonsense.  The Sad Puppies I knew, and who met, not in smoky backrooms, but usually in public on our blogs, though sometimes in a dashed emails when something weird came up, like accusations against us in main stream press were: Larry, who is half Portuguese and grew up dirt poor, and who looks more Portuguese than he is; Brad who is in an interracial marriage and who is so far to the left of me and such a bleeding heart liberal we call him the powder blue carebear; my friend Amanda Green, who yeah, is from Texas but holds something like four or five degrees and has traveled extensively and who has a lot more patience for claims of feminine victimhood than I do; and my friend Kate Paulk, born and raised in Australia and doing the best she can under severe illness (yes, she is differently abled, mother suckers. Very true in her case.)  Then there’s me: Latin, first generation immigrant, none of the advantages, not even knowing how the field worked, or that you could meet publishers at conventions (Guys, I didn’t know there WERE conventions till five years after I started writing.)

Our levels of success are:

Larry is a bestseller, duh.  A real one, not a “pushed” one.  However let me assure you I have a huge number of bestseller friends and not one of them can get anyone published much less get a publisher to stop publishing anyone.  ANY publisher.

Brad has one novel and any number of short stories published.  Until SP he was “very promising newbie.”  He ALSO has no power to get anyone published, much less fired from a publisher.

I’m a mid-list author who frankly since she came out of the closet politically has no hope of getting published anywhere but Baen and even Baen might look askance at my “respectability.” (Which is not a concern for bestsellers, but is for midlisters.)  This doesn’t matter because there’s indie and I can make more there or at least I did in my one, very odd, indie novel.  OTOH if the guys have no hope of affecting who is published or isn’t, much less do I.

As for Amanda and Kate, they are both indie authors.  The worst they can do against your career is give you a very bad review.  Since those are a dime a dozen in the field, that’s not exactly a ton of harm.

That’s why every time the left trotted out this accusation, and every time they brought it out, I felt like they were more idiotic than usual (which given the stew of undigested nineteenth century crap that makes up their so called philosophy was very idiotic indeed.)  I mean, let’s suppose we were villains with the evil intentions they ascribed us.  Were we also crazy?  No?  Then how did we think we could achieve our goals? And did we not notice it would keep all of us but Brad from publishing?

It wasn’t till the middle of the night (I’m on pred and I have a fever and the combination is… interesting) that I woke up realizing what they meant.

In my defense, the ideas are so twisty they could go down a corkscrew without touching the sides.  They’re also so deeply ingrained and deep set that these people not only never examine them but assume that everyone is acting from the same bolus of undigested stupidity.

It starts with their being enormous racists.

Yes, I know they’ll deny it strenuously, but really, they are.  They think they’re helping “minorities” and “the oppressed” by telling minorities and the oppressed how to think and feel, and by demanding “safe spaces” for people of other colors/orientations and for women, because you know, just being in the presence of other people oppresses them.

But other than their “benign” intentions the racism is there.  They assume that people of color (any color, even my spun-gold) can’t compete with standard white people.  They assume that women can’t compete with men.  They assume that gay people are fragile flowers who’ll be destroyed by the wrong word.

Having made those INCREDIBLY PREJUDICED assumptions, they cast themselves in the role of heroes helping the poor “downtrodden.”

Of course this gives the usually white, usually upper class, usually female “helpers” and “allies” an extra dose of self-esteem, for being so caring and “heroic” and speaking truth to power.  In fact they’re mostly speaking power to truth, that is they are the gatekeepers and authorities and standing in the way of anyone who would challenge their vision.  They’re also virtue signaling to their buddies in the industry who suffer from EXACTLY the same illusions and prejudices.

They don’t realize they’re casting people as helpless victims because that gives them, the “saviors” a chance of posing as larger than life heroes.  At least I hope to heaven they don’t realize it, and are just ASSUMING that of course minorities aren’t capable of anything by themselves.  I hope and pray they’re doing all this WITHOUT EXAMINING THEIR ASSUMPTIONS.  Note, in their heads they’re the good people, because they want to help the poor brownz (and gayz and womenz) people advance, not keep them in the dirt, where they’d stay without this help. (It’s the “where they’d stay without this help” that makes my middle fingers rise in reflex salute.)

At some level though they do realize it, because there is no one they love more than those who have nothing to offer but their victimhood.  AND because the elite, gatekeeper lefties at some level realize that their assumptions are enormously racist, sexist and homophobic, the “allies” invented micro aggressions and “white privilege” and “invisible racism” to make themselves feel better.  It’s not that they believe the people they want to help are inferior, none of it, it’s that the system is set against them and always will be.  They give themselves away in the fact that these theoretical constructs of theirs can’t be falsified (if I experience “endemic racism” or micro aggressions you can’t falsify my experience.  And if death camp survivors have white privilege, who doesn’t, really?)  They also give themselves away by what they’re now calling “privilege” like being literate and having your parents read to you as a child.  Oh, and most of all they give themselves away by hating with a bloody and purple passion anyone who falls under their parameters for oppressed and who says “no, thanks, I can do it alone.”  Or “No worries, I don’t believe any of your stuff, and I think I’m as good as you are and can do as well.  I don’t need safe rooms or protection.” They PARTICULARLY hate those minorities that MAKE it, like Larry. They love most of all those who let them “fight” on “their behalf.”

It’s not a new strategy.  Many medieval kings used it believe it or not, deriving their power from the lowest class whom they told they were fighting for them against the emergent bourgeoisie.  It was called the High and Low alliance and it didn’t come about because the king had a mad pash for the people, but because under the guise of being a kind and wise protector, he could keep his power over the nation, the big noblemen and the increasingly louder middle class.

So, oligarchs will do as oligarchs will do, right?

Which makes it no wonder that this “ally and protector” role is the one embraced by ALL the big publishing houses, the ones with power, the ones who can actually stop publishing people or stop pushing them or whatever, even in our diminished times.  It is also embraced by all the bien pensant both in our field, in the news and in academia.  This is like “most children of good families in Europe are communists.”  These people are rich (mostly very white), went to prestigious universities, and are mostly wealthy.  They are certainly powerful.  When the tide of opinion turned against that, their way to retain power was to make themselves into “allies” and “protectors.”  This is conscious at various levels to different ones of them.  BUT they do know they are the good guys, helping the little people who’d be lost without them, right?

Right.  So, along come the unwashed, nominating people they just like to read.  And of course the left thinks we want to keep women and minorities from publishing.  It’s obvious if you make their assumptions.

So, ignore that ALL their assumptions are bog-stupid and require a level of crazy that will have you thinkink you can psychically communicate with plants, and follow along.

1- Assumption one: minorities can’t actually write, not things anyone wants to read.  Yes, I know they say that’s because the field, the world, the universe is racisss sexisss and homophobic, but the truth is that they think these are less than people with full agency.  Because you know, if you have full agency and are as smart, on average as anyone else, you can change your writing style and focus to make it what people will buy.  And yes, they’ll say that’s not “authentic” because that’s how they keep writers in the plantation.  Yes, that was tried with me.

2- Assumption two: because they’ll never sell, the only way for minorities to make a living in SF/F is to have academic jobs.  Look, I told you I was thick, didn’t I?  I should have tweaked that when the third agent tried to push me into getting a university teaching job and writing less.  Because I could already be teaching (languages) in college, and in fact that’s my fall-back job when we’re in trouble, it never occurred to me this was being suggested as the only-true-way for me to make a living from “writing sf/f”.

3- Assumption three: because everyone is racist (as the gatekeepers in fact are) there are people out to get these people simply for being different color etc.

4- Minorities and women can’t compete with white males in a field not ACTIVELY biased FOR them, and not biased to give awards for right genetics and right think.   I want to note that while I reject the left’s assumptions UTTERLY, I reject this one UTTERLY AND VEHEMENTLY.  Sure, I can’t beat every white male in my own field, but I can’t beat every woman either.  However, I am better than a significant number of them, enough to know what’s holding me back is not my gender or the fact I can tan.

(This btw for the first time reconciles the fact that while giving all praise (and awards) to diversity the left in charge of publishing thinks that all minorities can write is narrow stuff relating to their own history and victimhood.  “Authentic” in other words. They also discourage books with minority — of any kind — heroes.)

If you follow all those assumptions and you have some experience in Academia, you know that the left insists on giving awards on the basis of race, sex, etc, because that helps with university jobs.  (To be fair most of them also work in academia.)

This means that by trying to remove the awards from going automatically to the oppressed ones (and their saintly allies) and making them compete in an open field with those evil white males we are making it impossible for them to make a living writing science fiction.  So, by wanting awards to be actually meritocratic (a lot of people have also pulled their masks off by coming out AGAINST meritocracy.) we are evil racist, sexist, homophobes who want to keep the poor downtrodden from WRITING science fiction.

Ignored in all this is indie, of course, because you know, it doesn’t fit in the academic career plan.

Ignored in all this too is the fact that writers write.  I wrote for 13 years (8 novels, five since published) uphill, both ways, without so much as a personalized rejection till year eight (for novels.  For shorts I got a personalized rejection first time, then nothing for eight years.)  I wrote even in times when I didn’t have the money for stamps to send the novels out.  I wrote when I thought I’d never ever ever break in and that writing was just a weird hobby.

So, you know, you can’t keep anyone from writing.  And with indie you can’t keep anyone from publishing.  And the last thing I care about is the color of the hands that typed in the manuscript.  Heck, I don’t even care about the color of characters, or their sex, or their orientation, or if they’re purple aliens.  I care that they are interesting. Keep me reading, and I don’t even care if your worldbuilding shows you have no clue how a real economy works.

Anyway, problem solved.  I figured out why they accuse us of this insanity.  And it makes sense, if you buy into all their assumptions.  Of course, if you buy all their assumptions you’re more than a few slices short of a loaf or exquisitely indoctrinated, or using their assumptions as a hustle, but never mind that. (And if you’re like me, it’s hard to control the rise of the middle fingers in response to the assumptions, but never mind that either.)

Now when they bring this stupidity up, we can confront them with the submerged part of their ideas, which, like an iceberg, are massive and dark.

And we can return to ignoring them and writing fiction (and some non fiction).  Because you know, writers write.  They don’t use fiction as a vehicle for a university job. It doesn’t really matter what color or sex the writers are or with whom they prefer to bump uglies.  Writers write.

Some of us are so broken and so innocent we just want to tell stories and have them read.

And that’s what I’ll do.




169 thoughts on “Awards, Money and Writing, oh, My

  1. I don’t even care about the color of characters, or their sex, or their orientation, or if they’re purple aliens.

    I was with you there until you got to the purple aliens. They get quite enough awards, speaking fees, and invitations to glitzy parties already.

  2. At lunch, I got a fortune cookie, and when I read the “fortune” inside I was prominently reminded of the recent topics we’ve been discussing. It read “In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true either is true or becomes true.” For too many people, everything they see and hear is filtered or distorted by the world view the left has programmed them with via unceasing narrative in the media and educational complex. That which disagrees with the narrative is either discarded or warped according to the narrative. That which agrees with the narrative is accepted without question.

  3. It amuses me that some of the latest insanity over the last few days is being referenced back to Sad Puppies and being plastered over people who had no involvement in it. These people throwing accusations around are sounding ever more bat-shit deranged. It’s no wonder they can’t sell their art for a handful of beans.

    When reading a story I typically put myself in as the main character, sometimes with different parts/ability to tan. But it’s essentially me (double checks that I closed the brackets this time) and when I put the book down I consider how I (yup, closed them this time as well) would have handled the situation and where that would lead me next. That often means that what happens next in the story and what I conjured up are wildly different. Most times what happens inside the story I can say, “Yes, this makes a kind of sense for that character even though it’s not what I would have done.” Occasionally I have a WTF moment where I’m sitting there going, “This character is supposedly an adult, and according to the story is in a supervisory capacity at their job. How in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks did this character survive childhood let alone get put in charge of someone else, with problem solving skills like that?”

    1. I’ve been reading lots of indie and so many of the indie characters I’ve read seem to exist just to insult other people. Apparently, in order to be a ‘bad-ass’, you have to be completely insulting and disrespectful to everyone around you. Even when it would work in your best interest to take a breath and calm the F down.

      On the one hand it sort of explains why they are a ‘bad-ass’. They’re to stupid to know when to keep their mouths shut so have spent the majority of their life getting the crap beat out of them. On the other (much to your point), why hasn’t anyone done the world a favor and removed this foul-mouthed cretin?

      1. There is a difference between a badass and an ass. But folks don’t recognize it.

  4. As far as I know, during Sad Puppies David Weber was off somewhere rolling his eyes and shaking his head.

    I think we ought to all be clear on that.

    John Ringo, too. Probably sprained those eyeballs to whatever extent he could be bothered while he was writing.

    Pulling in Sad Puppies now is absurd. It’s just as absurd as insisting on a mandatory binary mindset where anyone who dares to suggest an INCLUSIVE convention policy is clearly making an overt statement that only one sort of people are welcome. Because that’s what INCLUSIVE obviously means.

    Sure it does.

    1. Ringo gave Larry a Le Mancha award for Sad Puppies. That could be understood as support, as well as a suggestion that it was tilting at windmills. Ringo is also DragonCon adjacent, so potentially tied in with the establishment of the Dragon Awards, which could be understood as a Puppy attack on the Hugo. Ringo is said to have asked for a future slot at running Sad Puppies, but this was years before it went into the current state of abeyance. Freer was heavily pro Puppy, and was with Larry responsible for making a number of comments about the math of the Hugo. Freer was radicalized on the Hugo matter by conversation with Ringo. (Ringo said the Hugo was fixed against the right. Freer said prove it. Ringo convinced Freer of the evidence.)

      As someone with a reasonably complete memory of what was said on Sad Puppy blogs, there is very little reason to think Weber had anything to do with it. I certainly can’t think of a hint. Perhaps someone on Facebook, the Bar or Weber’s forums extensively during the period in question could show evidence otherwise.

      1. Evidence is Racisss. And Patriarchal. And threatens safe spaces.

        No Evidence Allowed.

          1. You rang? (Speaking from the giddy heights of about an R rating on the Correia alphabetic author success scale, for works in formal symbolic logic.) Today I read a list of author requirements to be published in one of the professional academic journals and bounced…again.

            1. Hey Confutus: Your post inspired me to look at Larry’s author success scale again, considering it as a non-fiction academic-ish writer. Much to my surprise, I’ve made it all the way up to M, or maybe even L! I had no idea. Thanks for the inspiration.

    2. Well, they have to keep pulling in Sad Puppies, because that’s the closest thing they can do to ‘evidence’. It isn’t, to anyone with a brain, but they have to keep rebuilding the straw versions of Larry, Sarah, Brad, (pretty much all of us) to joust against and scream victory on.

  5. A thought about “authentic.”

    It’s definitely a convoluted and weird thing. On the one hand, most people like to experience a different world. That’s why they read. So being “different” is generally good. On the other hand I’ve seen too many instances (and it transcends genres, though it may not transcend the New York publishing scene) where minority authors are criticized for not sticking to the prescribed script. The teenaged black girl is suburban rather than urban for example, or the Korean brothers solving crimes eat cheesburgers instead of whatever Korean-Americans are supposed to eat. It blows your mind.

    But (and on a third hand) what happens if the new, different, and “authentic” becomes popular with a broad audience? What if a different-than-Tolkien fantasy paradigm catches on because everyone loves it? Everyone! What if the new setting catches on and more and more people want to build stories there? Well, that’s “appropriation”. Because something that is minority needs to STAY minority. Small. Boxed off. Over there.

    And at the bottom of that is, again, the bone deep belief that whoever-it-is can’t write. The new fantasy setting can never ever become “mainstream” because of the assumption that everyone else are better writers and letting them write in that *place* means that they automatically do a better job and steal all the sales away… causing *harm*.

      1. I honestly can’t think of a single thing more likely to bring more readers to people’s books than a “big name” author picking up that sub-genre. Rowling didn’t steal sales from other authors who wrote magical schools even before she did, she brought them sales.

        1. Obligatory link to Larry’s fisk.

          Sadly, this is not a new thing. I remember many years ago a radio station discussion about how R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps series was overrated & all this same sort of thing. I remember at the time (as a teenager) thinking they were idiots – do they not want kids/YA to read? I’m sure they’d say they did- in which case, why are they bashing on what kids/YA evidently like reading?. Even if it’s not to my taste (Goosebumps isn’t/wasn’t), just the fact that it brings in new readers is a VERY GOOD THING.

          1. Not sure what the actual fallacy is. Basically they think that all books are fungible and of course kids would be reading their twaddle if it wasn’t for popular stuff. Not playing games or otherwise

          2. I guess if kids start reading a lot they might read the wrong thing and get the wrong ideas.

            That might cost the Guardians of Progressive Thought their phoney-baloney jobs.

    1. Er, is there actually some novel where Korean brothers (who like cheeseburgers) solve crimes?

      Okay, it was the “brothers” part… I think I have said it a few times before, but as an only child I am a rather big sucker when it comes to stories having siblings as the main characters. Not that uncommon in stories aimed at children and adolescents, but in my age I much prefer adult siblings and they are somewhat rare. At least when it’s siblings who get along, can work with each other well enough and care about each other, not those far more common stories of rivalries and Shakespearean family tragedies.

      Funny that, isn’t it? You’d think I should prefer the lone wolf no family character stories, as that would be way more like me and I should be able to identify with those characters much better. Because they are like me.

      Maybe I do. But that doesn’t mean I have to like them.

      1. I’m sorry I don’t remember for sure if it was brothers. I *think* it was Korean. And I’m pretty sure about the cheeseburger part. And yes, it’s a detective novel by a Korean (probably) author.

        “They should be eating Korean food. It’s authentic.”

        1. I don’t know about Korea (the free part) – but I remember something some years ago about young people in Tokyo eating more McDonald’s than traditional dishes.

          When my high school hosted a Japanese student group back in the mid-1970s, nobody could convince them to go to the one and only Japanese restaurant in town; they wanted to go to the American and Mexican places.

          1. DUH. I actually like Portuguese cuisine and do a lot of it. It’s one of the things about Portugal that most definitely doesn’t suck.
            In 34 years here I’ve eaten at a Portuguese restaurant ONCE. Okay, there aren’t that many, so Brazilian (other than steakhouses) where there’s been one in every city I’ve lived in?
            Never seem to get around to it.
            I mean when I go out I want what’s — to me — exotic.

            1. Oh, I don’t think that any of them don’t like their “own” cuisine. But 60guilders remarked that what most people want when they’re “out” (restaurant a block away, or across an ocean) is the exotic.

              The wife and I mostly make my ethnic – Midwest farm country, and her ethnic – East Coast Polish/Lithuanian at home. But we tend to do Asian when we go out. Or high-end Mexican.

            2. It’s why I don’t eat Mexican much when I’m traveling. In California, you can get authentic Mexican food or Californicated Mexican food just about everywhere. But other types of food are a bit rarer.

              I do like avocados, though. That’s about as California local as you can get.

      2. I come from a family of seven children and I also enjoy have siblings as main characters.

      3. It doesn’t sound funny to me. I wrote a thing where the primary emotional bond of the story is between the heroine, her brother, and a suddenly-acquired little sister, and I KNOW I was scratching an only-child itch the whole time. 🙂

    2. Koreans are forbidden to eat hamburgers, burritos, tacos, and spagetti, because that’s “cultural appropriation”, and I am double-secret forbidden (how WOULD I know…?) to eat burritos, tacos, stir-fry, fortune cookies, and who knows what else, being a white, anglo-saxon male (WAIT!!!! There are not-white anglo-saxons???? Well, DANG.)

      1. Kimchi soup.

        A couple of years ago when I was back at school one of the girls in a club I belonged to would bring her lunch. Kimchi soup. It was usually hamburger and broth with Kimchi tossed into it.

        It turns out that most cultures “respect” their food just as much as can be expected. When I was in the PI I made a “hot dish” that the local ladies I knew thought was great, wanted to know what was in it. I believe that one was rice, tomato sauce, and spam. 😉

      2. Well, there are lots of white people who aren’t Anglo-Saxons. I pissed someone off by pointing that out not long ago while they were trying to rant about white privilege.

        1. This is something that the left has forgotten. Now the only “white” people are Northern Europeans. Unless, of course, they want to consign you to outer darkness… Then you’re a white Mormon male despite you being obviously female.

          1. I had to point out the many Asian, Indian, Jewish (yarmulkes!) and Middle Eastern people in the photos of a computer programming convention. I know that a bunch of them were Hispanic (Mexico, South America) too, but I can’t pick them out. Because the discussion had started as a rant about how “white” all the programmers were.

            I guess, if everyone that isn’t solid black is white, then computer programming is all white people.

    1. Schlicter has become a personal favorite over the last 2 years. Monday and Thursday are now 2 of my favorite days because his new column will be up 🙂

  6. It seems like a lot of these drooling idiots automatically assume Baen author = Sad Puppies. Maybe since their side operates in lockstep, they think everyone who disagrees with them does too?

        1. very much so. In spite of publishing authors with a very wide rage of political beliefs (including a card-carrying communist), they have been considered an extreme right-wing publisher by the industry.

        2. If you read John Ringo’s Princess of Wands, he has some very thinly veiled characters from the writing industry in a section where the action was going down at a convention, and a group of publisher characters were clearly sneering at the company that was obviously representing Baen, so yeah, pretty likely.

                1. I could totally be wrong. I THINK though that we were introduced at the Baen dinner the year he wrote that. I mean, we’d “met” before but he had no idea who I was and made a not unpardonable assumption about an European-born, liberal arts graduate so it took some time for us to start TALKING.

                    1. yeah. He er… thought I was a lefty at a time. It took several broadsides misfiring, as I couldn’t udnerstand what he meant for him to go “Oh.”

    1. Aha… since the Hugo has for years been mostly a Tor prize, perhaps the Tor supporters and representatives think that Baen Books is trying to steal what rightfully belongs to them, and the whole thing was a dastardly scheme by the publisher?

      1. One of the top people at Tor seems to have been heavily involved with arranging the votes that heavily resulted in Tor awards. There were so few voters, who mostly were not coordinating, and fifty coordinated votes apparently could reliably deliver the award.

        A simple increase in attention or voters could change that, and Tor seems to have the issues and financial pressures of Tradpub. There may have been some risk that it could have taken Tor out of business.

        And Toni didn’t stop Larry, Sarah, Brad or Dave F.

        1. IIRC, I read that Tor buys memberships for their employees. So stacking the votes is a pretty easy thing to do for them. Though they moaned about how the Sad Puppies were buying multiple non-attending memberships so they could vote more. I never saw any of the SP claim to do so, nor did I see any proof (even so much as a screen shot) of anyone doing so.

          1. I paid for my own… But I’m horrible at making connections, so I probably missed out on the cash. Somebody owes me!

            I expect I’ll see that check about the same time as Exxon pays me for being a CAGW skeptic.

                1. Young man, you’re insulting my ancestors (and older son who got ALL of those genetics, plus the ones of his Scottish ancestors.) We’re not cheap. We think cheap people are profligates. We have trouble throwing trash away because we’re sure we’ll need it in the future. 😀
                  So, yeah, probably why I’m not being paid. That and, you know, I do it without being paid. I mean…

              1. Now, Sarah, my wife Em is Jewish and we’ve been buying your books for years — does that count?

    2. I can’t help but wonder if that’s why The Traveling Baen Road Show is consistently put in the dinky room at WorldCon. Time and again I see standing-room only crowds trying to get in, while down the hall a room twice as big is 4/5 empty for a panel on Trans-Inclusive Fandom or some such…

      And I’m subjecting myself to this in ten weeks.


      1. I think the folks who run WorldCon regard Baen much as English aristocrats regarded the cousin who made his fortune in Australia or Canada by actually working for a living.
        As you can probably tell, I prefer the cousin to his relatives.

      2. One of the things that SP brought to light was how *small* WorldCon is.

        Considering that WorldCon is basically a Tor marketing arm, why does Baen even bother? There are other cons where the management isn’t hostile and there are more attendees likely to buy Baen’s books.

        1. Exactly. Baen and LibertyCon are essentially symbiotic. I’d be surprised if that wasn’t the case for a number of other cons too.

        2. I suspect it’s twofold: first, marketing the books, and second, networking

          That is, since worldcon travels, it’s an excellent way to reach out to a different segment of the sci-fi convention-going market every year, and get feedback on their reaction to covers, titles, etc. Ignoring the tiny number of people that travel to each worldcon, she’s getting reactions from readers all over the country.

          The Baen Roadshow isn’t just about selling the books to the readers, it’s also market feedback – something no other publisher seems to realize or do. If a cover elicits a “meh” or “uh… no.” reaction from a couple audiences? Cover gets changed. If the pitch doesn’t stir the audience’s blood and set them on fire to get the book? Pitch gets changed.

          The problem with seeking market feedback in the same pool over and over, is that you start marketing to the tastes of that pool instead of to the wider audience of SF/F fans. LibertyCon and ConCarolinas give a strong feedback “your base what loves you thinks X of these covers/blurbs.” Other conventions give a wider, non-preaching-to-the-choir feedback.

          Second, the Baen editors are editors. They are in the field of editing SF&F. No matter what we may think of the shenanigans of a handful of other editors in the field, I’ll bet that the editors in general do like to get together and talk shop just like every other professional.

  7. BTW, that might also explain something like what has been done with the character Finn in the new Star Wars movies. He seemed pretty promising when he was introduced – a stormtrooper who switches sides when he figures he is on the wrong one, hinted to have at least some Force sensitivity (the posters where he is the one with the light saber), looks like there might be a very interesting character arc ahead.

    Then it started to look like, even in the first movie, like they didn’t quite know what to do with him. Okay, one box ticked, we have a black main character, but, eh, hm… And it seems, from what I have read, that he even became more of a comic sidekick in the next movie (didn’t go to see TLJ, I hadn’t been overly impressed by the first two Disney SW movies, and while debating whether I’d care to spend money on the third finally went to see the spoiler reviews and decided that nope, not interested, also rather pissed what was done with Luke Skywalker. Who I had rather identified with when young. Yes, in spite of the fact that he is a guy… while I feel like I have nothing in common with Rey).

    I would have wanted him as the hero. And Rey as the new Han Solo character, a jaded street wise helper to the naive former janitor from the bad guy side. Maybe then with the dashing pilot Poe and the not so dashing new Jedi student Finn competing for her interest. Maybe the Jedi could have this time even gotten the girl, as the girl actually would be available not being his sister.

    Oh well. Not the only change I would have wanted, frankly I would have preferred a pretty much completely different movie. Or movies. Whatever. They aren’t giving me the entertainment I want, I will not spend money on their product. That’s the way of the world. Fortunately there are other alternatives.

    1. Having a stormtrooper be the chosen hero of the Force would have been so stinking cool. And it would have given Finn a more realistic reason to turn against the Empire and turn around to literally start shooting the closest thing he has to brothers or comrades in the hanging bay scene than just first battle jitters. You’d think a galaxy wide evil empire would have encountered that problem at least once or twice.

    2. I like Finn, even in TLJ (mind you, what the writers did with him is terrible). He has two overriding motivations. First, he’s scared of getting caught by The First Order. In both movies, he spends a lot of time trying to run. Second, he cares about his friends. This is why, even though he wants to get as far away from The First Order as possible, he keeps doing stupidly dangerous things like infiltrating Starkiller base.

    3. John Wright, who feels the same way that you do (in general, though his specifics may differ) about how they threw away perfectly good plot opportunities, has decided to do something about it and write a better Star Wars sequel plot. See for links to what he’s calling “Starquest” as a working title. (Might be the final title too, I don’t know yet).

      1. Yep, I’ve seen that. Hope it works, it does sound rather promising. 🙂

        I comment there sometimes too (pretty rarely), but I use a different handle on Disqus. 😀

    4. Agreed, Finn was wasted (well, everyone was wasted, but that’s a whole article in and of itself). The actor comes across as quite bright and articulate and would make a terrific hero, but they made Finn a dumb goof, which was such a waste, considering Finn’s the one that made that courageous ethical choice. But no, they made Finn the typical bland minority character.

      And then they made him claim to be a janitor. And they call us raciss? Saladin Ahmed attacked Kelloggs, because, on a box of Corn Pops, one corn pop cleaning a floor was browner than the other corn pops. But Star Wars does this?

      1. I like the Almighty Janitor trope ( so I would have been more than bit ticked if he had got that type of role – the smart guy who never liked being a stormtrooper so he had made sure he got stuck to a job where didn’t have to take part in the fighting, and somebody who is a lot more competent that he has ever been given credit for (but not on Rey levels, thanks) but yep, considering the lecturing the current showrunners have been giving the fact that they made their token black character both an incompetent goof AND a janitor instead of somebody cool like Lando is rather telling, I’d say.

        And yes, I do like the actor, even if I had not seen him in anything else but the 2011 Attack the Block before TFA. But he is pretty good in that movie. His character is a teen gang member who starts out as a rather unpleasant character, but when the alien invasion starts he slowly turns into a hero. Hopefully he will sooner or later get the lead role in something which does well, and keeps him in the leading man roles for a while, he can do them. Unfortunately Pacific Rim Uprising didn’t quite work for that.

  8. The coalition of the baptists and the bootlegger, or in this case the progressive gatekeepers and the hustlers is very effective. One faction presses for more rules, preening themselves on their moral virtue. The other faction exploits the opportunities. They win, everyone else loses.

    1. as in the case of the Kennedys, you got both sides of that in the same family. Make your money breaking the law and ensure your family is big in making laws.

      1. Is this yet another allusion to the “Joe Kennedy was a bootlegger” myth?

        Before Prohibition even started, Kennedy was a bank president and successful Wall Street operator. In the 1920s, he became a Hollywood mogul (he put RKO together). He also had big real estate holdings.

        Why would he involve himself in something that was illegal and could get him murdered, when he was making far more money legally?

        Kennedy did make a lot of money out of liquor. He bought US distribution rights for famous brands and stockpiled Scotch whisky during Prohibltion, when they were cheap – then cashed in at Repeal. All legal, though.

          1. and he made a whole lot not fully illegal or legal, but at a remove so he didn’t “do it”. . . just got a few bucks in his pocket, and what ever someone did afterwards to pay him those bucks was neither here nor there.

  9. Let’s not forget the aggressively ignorant political assumptions, which overlap with those already cited by Sarah. For instance, If you aren’t in favor of Affirmative Action you’re racist (ignoring those of minority heritage who consider it to be insulting, demeaning, and condescending), if you aren’t feminist you’re sexist (ignoring those women who consider current feminism to be misandrist on the one hand and murderous on the other), or that if you’re not endorsing gay privilege you’re a homophobe, (ignoring biology and the natural inclinations of the great majority of both sexes) or that if you adhere to Judeo-Christian tradition you are an enemy of the progress of mankind. (ignoring world history since at least 1500.)

    1. These are so annoying.

      I’m not against the very concept of “white privilege” because I’m racist or don’t want to admit in public how totally amazing and awesome I am (shut up… what do you *think* those confessions are?). I’m against it BECAUSE IT HURTS PEOPLE.

      1. how totally amazing and awesome I am

        Ah, yes, the difference between Mythical Privilege and mythical privilege. (I do not claim either, but… well, it’s best not to argue with a unicorn – even if you are sure the uni has it wrong).

        1. Heh. 🙂

          The thing is, if I do want to confess in public that I’m totally amazing and awesome I don’t need to invent an elaborate ideology that serves to explain how this is due to the circumstances of my birth and thus I’m not *actually* bragging. If I’m going to be so crass as publicly announce how great I am, I would *rather* it be because of something I’ve accomplished.

          (And yes, dammit, the whole ideology really is that racist.)

  10. For years I was getting tagged in to comments wherein someone was trying to up the representation of ‘disadvantaged’ writers in awards. Not a slate, exactly, but very specific lists of recommended authors. Sometimes this was about ethnicity, more often it was about female authors. As if female authors are discriminated against. Which may be true, but if it is the discrimination is being done by an overwhelmingly female dominated publishing industry, or by an overwhelmingly female dominated audience.

    These chains used to be brazen, obvious, and ubiquitous, so when Larry Corriea’s Sad Puppy 2 went kerfuffleized I got a little bit confused. His point was so clearly true that I thought it almost not worth saying. Until the reaction and the exact same people who I knew to have participated in the effort to get more ‘women and minorities’ represented in awards were the ones now saying no such thing ever happened. That the only thing that was happening was not a deliberate manipulation to award their preferred authors, but rather the changing demographics of fandom.

    That was a lie. But one I thought they believed. How does a no-name author whose books are not often available in bookstores, whose sales number in the low thousands beat out, and beat out consistently, authors whose books sell in the millions? In a fan voted award? Who would have more fans? Who would have more superfans? The sales said that half of the people who read the lower selling work would have had to have nominated that work to get it on the Hugo ballot.

    People believed that to be true. Or so I thought, but after reading this blog I think you have it more correct; they need it to be true so they pretend that it is true and get angry if anyone points out it’s not true.

    Mrs. Hoyt, thank you for writing this post as it’s helped organize my own thoughts on the subject and it fits the facts as I saw them happen.


  11. I’m curious about the sudden resurgence of attacks against Puppies and the Puppy-adjacent. It’s likely that certain people are doing it merely to drive their blog clicks, but the others? Delayed reaction? Still bitter about “winning”? Nostalgia for the heady summer days of 2015?

    1. Possibilities: 1) Excitement over 2018 midterms 2) Publishing industry worse shape than we realize, and they are lashing out 3) They are making a push in on the Dragon awards.

      Nothing else comes to mind.

      1. They haven’t had anything to feed their outrage monkey lately. And remember, after the assterisks, they declared victory over the evil Puppies.

        Since the Sad Puppies officially retired, they look like a safe target for a fresh round of pointing and screeching. And they’re all pumped up about getting Ringo and Correia booted from a couple of cons, which looks like moar win to them.

        1. Feh. If not the Puppies they end up blaming *GamerGate* for anything.

          For example, recently there was some news claiming that the actress who played Rose Tico in The Last Jedi had to close her Instagram account due to some rather mean comments being left there. So any fans who disliked TLJ *and* GamerGate were blamed.

          Though oddly no examples of said comments were ever provided so I find myself skeptical. It’s either something fabricated as an excuse to wail or it’s likely going to be a handful of stupid jerks on the Internet being used to smear an entire group of people. The usual, IOW.

    2. A certain blogger, who is banned from both ATH and MGC, is up for a Hugo. That’s what all this is about. Driving his friggin’ comments numbers up and throwing red meat to the useful idiots.

      Bottom line, they need a witch to burn, and are quite willing to re-define “witch” until somebody fits the profile. Sad Puppies is dead and gone, like the parrot that pined for the fjords, but their need for a witch to burn remains. So they’re digging up the remains to burn ’em again. He’s trying to leverage the collective butt-hurt of the WorldCon Faithful into a rocket of his very own.

      I hope he wins. How beautiful to see a puppy-kicking troll who’s banned across half the internet take home a Hugo award for Best Fanwriter or whatever it is. I will need a whole train load of popcorn.

        1. No, the other one. Camel flop. I’d link him, but
          A) banned, and
          B) he’s an imbecile.

            1. I do apologize if any imbeciles were harmed by this inclusion of floppy cameldick in their group. It was more an observation of fact than an accusation against imbeciles. I will try to be more QUILTBAG in the future. ~:D

              Perhaps I should have called him a Feminist. That’s true as well.

                1. I’ve been playing with new naming for floppy, its a fun distraction from my worldwide Nazi campaign and tormenting small fluffy animals. Gotta have a hobby, am I right?

                  1. Some suggestions:

                    Contemptible Flagellation
                    Combustible Flatulence
                    Cacophonous Fornication

  12. I don’t care what the race of the author is. I don’t care what the ethnicity or nationality of the author is, unless their name is so long and strangely pronounced that this poor old white guy can’t figure it out or wrap his tongue around it. (Hint: pronunciation guides for foreign author’s names is almost a necessary aid for most of us monolingual Americans. Me, I’m semi-monolingual, knowing enough French, German, Korean, and Japanese to read street signs and politely order a meal. Arabic I can only read street signs.) I don’t care what gender or sex the author is. Don’t care what age they are either. Once I have the book in hand, it’s all about the story. Before that, sure, a cool cover might get me to pick it up. An interesting title works too. Does it have a good tag line? How about a couple of interesting reviews? 4 yeses usually gets me to pick it up and read the first page.

    1. I actually don’t care how to pronounce the author’s name (I also don’t worry about how to pronounce most character names either), I just need to be able to search for it.

      But it can make it harder to recommend the book to someone else.

      1. What Mike Houst & davidlang both said. Story, Story, Story. I can’t tell what ethnic most characters are, & generally don’t care. Gender, don’t care who the point of view is. LAST item I want in my story is a message. If the author slips it in and it works as part of the story, fine, but it had better not up & slap me in the face.

        1. I have been thinking about this lately in light of the Steven Universe cartoon, which is about as LGBTalphabetsoup-y as it gets and which I nevertheless enjoy immensely. Because 1) story, story, story (plus plot, plus characterization, plus foreshadowing) and 2) they hold up things they like rather than trying to drag down things they don’t. (There was one episode out of five seasons where they had a standard Deplorable-caricature and it infuriated me because they’d been doing SO WELL up till then…)

          Most SJWriffic stuff I’ve seen seems to run on hate. Not the “you won’t give me what I want” which toddlers, teens and the Left define as “hate”, but that snippy, bitter “I’m gonna show them ALL” hate. Steven Universe does so far, far less than average. Star Wars: TLJ* had a distinct whiff of it, the fans of same far more so, and these days I avoid Big Five books whose authors I don’t already know because they _reek_ of it.

          (*I am firmly convinced that Admiral Holdo-I-think, with the purple hair, is now Star Wars’ Wesley Crusher.)

          1. Was that Steven’s uncle or am I forgetting somebody? Because even he got treated better than I was expecting after the start.

            1. Yeah, that was the uncle. And I’ll grant “better than I expected”, but i still wanted to throw something. Big Hollywood used to call it the Sucker Punch, and I generally want to punch back.

          2. All I can say about Holdo is that Rear Admiral Elvis Santino is still the top spot in my Worst Fictional Admiral list though Holdo got close to seizing that prize.

      2. It took me nearly 40 years to figure how Ngaio (as in Marsh) is supposed to be pronounced. I’ve been saying it wrong for so long that I still mispronounce it in my head all the time.

        When it comes to characters, if the name is odd or really long I tend to just give them a nickname based off the first handful of letters. I’m not gonna spend time/energy figuring out how to pronounce (especially in my head) some alphabet string 20 characters long each time it comes up in a story.

        1. /laugh
          I’ll have you know that I’d been reading Andre Norton’s stories for over a decade before I discovered he was really a she. At which point I thought, “That’s really cool”, and “Duh, I’m about the slowest guy on the uptake on this planet.”

          1. You guys have NO idea how I read names of authors when I was little in Portugal.
            Mark Twain was Mark Tvain for years. Heinlein is NEARLY unpronounceable. Robert was pronounced with the strong R. And it took me years to figure out the sexes of MOST people.

          2. Eh, I didn’t figure out that Andre was a boy’s name until my mid-teens. Guess who’s to blame?

      1. I might have read a few books by nonhumans. I mean ideas the authors had of how supposedly normal humans acted were so far off the mark that I assume they had little to no interaction with actual humans.

          1. I adored that entire scene. Especially “I swear *I’ll* come down and bite you on the leg!”

            1. I know! Spock’s World is on my list of ‘old friend’ re-reads.

              The historical Vulcan couple who end up in an arranged marriage but fall for each other because of loud, vehement arguing are some of my favorite fictional couples ever as well.

              1. Cor and Aravis got so used to quarreling and making up again that they got married, so as to go on doing so more conveniently. ~CS Lewis, The Horse and His Boy, denoument.

                1. BWAHA HA!

                  ‘She realized she would have to be bonded to this man, just so she could have a proper (uninterrupted) argument with him.’

                  Apparently the length of time he’d stay visiting just to argue with her was almost improper – and having to leave meant the argument of the moment (by this point no longer about his refusal to flee what was to her certain death) was interrupted, which was dissatisfying.

                  I seriously loved those two. Broke my heart, how their story ended.

                  1. I agree…. but there’s worse ways to go than applying a thorough chlorination to the Vulcan gene pool on the way out.

          2. They would have improved the writing on TNG by about 1000 percent if they had just thrown money at Diane Duane and told HER to write it.

  13. The Puppies and Puppy adjacent made much too convenient a vessel for the righteous wrath of the seeking-to-be-offended. “If Hitler had not existed, it would have been necessary to invent him.” The Puppies,as the eternal immortal embodiment of all evil, must be dug up, invested with new legendary power, and re-vanquished every few years. Even if they did go home to grow turnips.

  14. Someday, Sarah, I will get a picture of you holding both middle fingers aloft, that we might craft a mighty meme reading ” MY MIDDLE FINGERS LET ME SHOW YOU THEM” for you to use in posts thereafter.

  15. one of my uncles had a bumper sticker when I was kid of a cartoon character reminiscent of Yosemite Sam holding his middle fingers up and a caption of “Take Two, They’re Small”

  16. May I just say that, as a keen reader of SF and Fantasy since about 1947 or 1948, I simply don’t care what gender or racial identity the authors whose stories I enjoy may have or choose to identify with. Unless they’ve chosen to provide photos of themselves, or give personal details to accompany their output, I don’t know whether they’re white, black, or green with purple spots, any more than I know if they’re straight, gay, crossdressing or undergoing reassignment. And I simply don’t care! What counts for me is the quality of a storry, not the status of its author.

    1. That’s the point! NONE OF US CARE ABOUT THAT – all we want is a good story. But the ongoing lie that we do, (thus the hurling of ‘racist misogynist homophobe bigot’ on a regular basis at us) is one of the things we have to keep mocking and dealing with, because without them having that cozy lie, they have to look at their flaws and address their mistakes, which is something the gatekeepers and tastemaker-wannabes absolutely cannot do.

  17. Good grief. Somebody’s dragging out the Sad Puppies phenom again and bitching about it? Isn’t that like complaining about the Eisenhower administration?

    Yet it’s pretty obvious to me why they’re doing it: They’re scared. Indie publishing is making the Manhattan gatekeepers irrelevant, and threatening the actual survival of the smaller trad imprints. Worse yet, the success of SP made it clear that not everybody was buying the progressive narrative in fantastic fiction, and that those who had rejected the narrative were in fact picking up a following.

    So a great deal of this sturm und drang is equivalent to the left saying “Everything is under control!” when it damned well isn’t. The rest is what I call “tribal loyalty signaling” (there’s nothing virtuous about it) which consists of progressive voices saying “I’m loyal!” to one another, to avoid being punished as weakniks and heretics by their more violent fringes.

    None of this is new. I consider it a useful gauge of how well we’re doing: The louder they get, the more we’re winning. By the position of the pointer on the gauge, I suspect we’re doing very well indeed.

    1. If you’re not pointing at an enemy and screeching your “allies” might start to notice the extreme crap you’re pulling and start to question you.

      There’s a little graphic out there showing a “left” and a “right” and both sides screaming at each other. Then there’s a second graph that has a tiny end cut off both sides that says “radical left” and “radical right” and they’re screaming and everyone inbetween is thinking “shut up shut up shut up.”

      I don’t think that’s quite right. I think it misses some stuff that’s pretty important. Like the cooperation by “moderates” to portray everyone on the other side as “radical”. No one is allowed to have an honest opinion that differs, they’re all haters, nazis, etc..

      That’s promoted a whole lot by people who insist on defining “bigotry” as “not entirely impressed with my tantrum.” And as long as the moderates, or the middle, can be kept distracted no one will turn and look at THEM.

      Because I refuse to believe that (for example) the average lefty sci-fi author or fan is interested in purging every libertarian or conservative from science fiction fandom. The problem is that when you TELL them what people are doing in their name, they choose not to see it and choose not to believe you.

  18. Thanks for explaining this. My mind doesn’t twist this way. I just knew before I started writing novels was that the stories were “boring” and didn’t grab my interest. I had to start writing in self-defense… also another reason I like indie… When I started reading indie, I didn’t feel strangled when I read. Not all of them, but a lot of them were interesting… different.. good… and not exactly like the best-sellers.

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