On Anger, Power and Displacement in the Hugos

On anger, power and displacement

Today I’d like to talk about anger, power and displacement. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the term displacement, it’s the idea that when a person of lower power or status feels threatened by a person of higher power or status, the threatened one will often displace their anger onto a less dangerous target.

In primate terms, a lower status monkey aggressed upon by a higher status monkey will not challenge the aggressor, but will instead go beat up the omega. So if your boss gives you a hard time, you kick your desk, slam your chair, flip off another driver on the way home and snap at your partner and/or children. You’re not angry at the desk, the chair, the driver or your family, but they’re less risky outlets than directing your anger into a confrontation with your boss, which is where the anger belongs.

Right now, people are very, very angry at Vox Day. They are also afraid of Vox Day. Afraid of violence. Afraid of doxxing and online harassment. Afraid of him or his followers showing up at WorldCon in person.

I don’t see a lot of anger directed at, say, Jim Butcher, who is a high status monkey – er, individual. 😉 Or at Kevin J. Anderson, also a successful, high status person. No, Jim and Kevin wouldn’t make good targets for displacement. Displacement usually falls on a person of lesser status and lesser power, someone who is less of a threat to the person doing the displacing.

So, who are the omega monkeys in this scenario? Well, they’re people like relatively unknown (and queer or female) short story authors. And, of course, the stories themselves, who aren’t human and can’t fight back or have their feelings hurt – sort of like that desk in my earlier example.

So someone who’s displacing can safely vent all of that hurt and anger by shredding a story because the story functions as a symbolic proxy, as a stand in for Vox Day. “I can’t get back at VD, but I can destroy his symbol, this thing he allegedly loves.” So by shredding the stories and the most vulnerable authors, people are, metaphorically speaking, burning Vox Day in effigy.

There’s just one problem with that: We are not Vox Day.

On Vietnam and its relevance to the Hugos (i.e. more displacement)

In the popular mindset, Vietnam is considered to be one of the ugliest wars ever fought. For the first time, Americans saw what up-close war was like. Night after night, they watched as blood, dirt, death and civilian massacres were piped into their living rooms through the wonder of television. They saw Agent Orange, and burned, naked children fleeing in terror.

Americans hated the war, so when the soldiers returned home, they displaced their anger onto the soldiers, reviling them, spitting on them and calling them baby killers.

Then, over the course of the next few decades, we grew to understand that we’d made a terrible mistake. So when next group of soldiers came home from a war that many Americans didn’t support, we didn’t spit and we didn’t call names. We’d learned that it was wrong to displace our anger onto the easy target. We said “Thank you for your service” even if we disagreed with the war.

But I don’t think we’ve learned that in the SFF community yet because we’re displacing our anger all over some of the Hugo nominees.

Vox Day spoke our names without our consent, and because of that we have been bullied in the news media and all over the internet. The women among us have been reviled as misogynist men, the minorities have been reviled as white racists, and the QUILTBAG authors and allies have been reviled as straight homophobes. We have been called assholes, bitches, mongrels, yapping curs, talentless hacks and so many more things that I can’t even name them all. I have seen at least one suggestion that all of us should be euthanized, a euphemism and allegedly funny word for murder.

There’s a trope made famous by Anita Sarkeesian that in the game of patriarchy, women aren’t the opposing team, they’re the ball. There’s a contingent that’s going to be upset that I’ve name checked Sarkeesian, but her comment is applicable to the Hugos, too. In the Hugo debate, the nominees aren’t the opposing team. We’re the ball.

We’re being kicked and bullied and savaged all over the internet.

And it hurts.


A gentle reminder: Comments are moderated.

91 thoughts on “On Anger, Power and Displacement in the Hugos

  1. They only THINK they’ve found an omega monkey. They will learn otherwise. I’m so proud to know you.

  2. Hi Kary,

    Yes, I lament how you, like some of the the nominees on the Rabid Puppies slate are, by and large, being used as political footballs. Its not fair or right. It makes me uncomfortable that several have withdrawn (although I can see why), and the escalating rhetoric by partisans of all sides just makes things worse and worse and worse.

  3. Ms. English, I’ve been following this since the Hugo ballot came out. I feel like Michael Corleone at this point (“Each time I get out, they pull me back in again”). I ducked out of fandom a long time ago because of this kind of thing. I got pulled back because there were anomalies in the Hugo ballot and my brain gets attracted to those like a pig to truffles.

    I agree with what you say, but then I would. I’ve been an omega monkey all my life. Probably one of the reasons I found SF. I’m an “other”.

    “Vox Day” is Trelane, pure and simple. He doesn’t scare me and never will. If I could muster any feeling for him at all, it would be pity and I generally don’t pity anyone (perhaps I should pity those who know “Day” in real life).

    Your story is good. It doesn’t matter as much to me that your story was on the slates as it does that your work is good enough to consider seriously for the Hugo. To take your analogy and torture it, there are now two tribes of screaming howler monkeys flinging dung at one another-“Vox Day” and his band of chatterers on one side and the “No Award” uber alles band of chatterers..

    Right now, I’m not sure if I care enough to continue being covered in spatters of dung. I’m too old for this nonsense.

    Would I have nominated your story? Probably not, but it would have placed in my top 10 or 15 for the year. Will I read more of your work? Definitely. But right about now, I’m recalling just why I like animals better than I like people. All best to you and yours.

  4. Hang in there. You’re a good writer, and good writing will win out in the end, whether that means winning a Hugo or not.

  5. Kary:

    Hang in there, and if you win, stand proud and grab that rocket with both hands. Don’t let anyone try to tarnish your award. I’m trying to stay out of the whole thing, though I will post a comment here or there. I try to remember Kevin telling us all to be nice, and to not get into political arguments. A good rule to follow. Do I think chiming in on one side (but definitely not the other) will cost me a career? Not really. The great majority of my fans would have to agree with Brad and Larry. But it’s still a matter of principle. As far as Vox Day goes, he seems like someone who is sort of out there, but calling him vile and comparing him to some of the worst in history goes beyond the pale. Are your kidding me? Hitler and Stalin need to give up their prime seats in the center of hell to Vox? And death threats from what are essentially cowards? I would love for someone to come to my home to do me harm for my views on anything. As Tony Montoya said, they could say hello to my little friend. But you just keep up the fight, and know that some of us are proud that someone like you got nominated, and for a real story. What a refreshing change.

  6. Like you, I write a story that an editor bought and published. Some people like it enough to nominate it. Now, like you, I am supposed to have committed a mortal sin.

    If No Award wins in any category, it will prove the SP3 contention that the Hugos are being gamed, and that the bullies have won.

    1. That is not necessarily true. People may just think that the story doesn’t deserve a Hugo. That is a valid opinion to have.

      Anyone considering “No Award” automatically for anything Puppy-nominated is doing themselves and the Hugos a disservice. They are basically admitting that they can’t tell when something is good without having someone else choose it as an option for them first. I suffer no such lack of fortitude.

      That’s why I bought a supporting membership and I will read and vote for those items I think are deserving of a Hugo. Slate or no slate.

    2. Mr. Andrews, I’ve been reading your work for more than 30 years, I’ve read “Flow” and had I nominated, it probably would have been one of my choices. The same with the Flynn novelette. I’m on record as arguing that reflexively using the “No Award” option against everything on the SP/RP slates, without regard to merit, is as bad as the tactics the proponents of that tactic are complaining about. Two bads don’t make a good. I hope you win Best Novella.

      That said, given that the RP list was put together by one man and that one man wrote at the head of his list the following, “What follows is the list of Hugo recommendations known as Rabid Puppies. They are my recommendations for the 2015 Hugo nominations and I encourage those who value my opinion on matters of science fiction and fantasy to nominate them precisely as they are”, I submit that the bullies have already “won” and the only consideration at this point is whether or not more foolishness with be piled on. The link to the RP list is below:


      Given that the list was posted at the author’s blog and is covered with works in which he, as editor/publisher, has a vested interest (as editor and I believe also owner of Castalia House) “Day’s” impartiality in his selections is an open question. His list incorporates much of the SP’s list and was widely circulated.

      My best to you and may there be a Hugo in your future.

      1. And that has nothing to do with Arlan, Kary, or Sad Puppies. Vox is his own man. If you’re upset with him, take it up with him.

        1. Not exactly, Mr. Shoemaker. Nothing happens in a vacuum. To one degree or another, “Mr. Day’s” actions affected every single individual, work, fanzine, et cetera, on his list-because to one degree or another (given the relatively small numbers needed for nomination) the RP list had significant impact as to what makes the list. So did the SP list. For example, if the RP list generated 100 nominators and 30% of them simply wrote down the RP list in toto as they were told, that’s 30 nominations for each entry on the list. What if the sixth place finisher was five nominations below the fifth place nominee? That list, for good or ill, must be a consideration for everyone and has everything to do with everyone involved.

          As “Mr. Day’s” stated a desire to blow up the Hugos, I doubt he cares overmuch about broken eggs.

          1. And what does that have to do with THIS POST? Do you have an opinion on whether it is appropriate to attack Arlan and Kary and the Sad Puppies for Vox’s actions, over which they have no control?

          2. Mr. Shoemaker: Since for some reason I cannot reply directly to your reply, I reply here. As to what this has to do with this post, I replied to a comment made by Mr. Andrews, where he made reference to bullies winning, at which point I pointed out that, with “Mr. Day’s” tactics, the bullies had already “WON” and it was no longer a question of that, but whether or not bad would be piled upon bad. All of this is directly related to Mr. Andrews’s remark.

            I should think that my remarks to Mr. Andrews as to the quality of his nominated novella would have indicated my feelings as to the appropriateness of attacking Mr. Andrews (or anyone else but “Day” and his followers) but apparently I need to be specific:

            No one deserves to be attacked because of the behavior of others, particularly when they may well have been used by others to further aims they may not even have knowledge of, let alone support. It’s unlikely that “Day” bothered with niceties such as notification for those he “blessed” with inclusion on his list.

            I’m looking ahead, because “Day” has made it clear what he sees as his interests, he intends to act in the future and he’s already acted with little interest in the wishes of others. This is all interconnected and it won’t finish with this year.

          3. Thank you. That’s a direct, unequivocal answer. I respect you for that.

            The reason why I wanted a direct, unequivocal answer is that many of the attacks (some behind the scenes) take the form of a grudging compliment followed by the attack. “You’re not a bad writer. You have potential. Some day you might deserve a Hugo. But Vox Day… Guilt by association… You brought all this on yourself, you know… If only you would denounce Vox… and Larry… and Brad… and do the honorable thing and withdraw… then we could take you in and protect you, and some day you might have a respectable career. But you won’t, so too bad. Nice career you almost had.”

            Your comments looked like the start of another attack like that. They weren’t, so I apologize for misinterpreting them.

  7. I have read enough of the background to know what is going on and am sorry for all the balls.

    I have a supporting membership and look forward to reading all of the entries

  8. It’s authors like you who I feel the most for in all of this. You didn’t ask to be on a slate, and no one bothered to ask if you were willing to be ball in the game they decided to play with the awards.

    I’m sorry people have felt the need to insult you over what should be a highlight in your career. Worldcon has rules and will be a fun event regardless, it’s a lot easier for people to be jerks online than it is in person and I suspect more people who read Sci-Fi/Fantasy are interested reading a good story than being a juvenile keyboard warrior.

    Congrats on the nomination, I wish it was in a year that was less volatile, and I hope that this nonsense blows over soon so that people might stop insulting each other or trying to top each other with hyperbole and get back to just enjoying damn good stories. Thank you for sharing this and for also sharing your stories with the world.

    1. Thank you for the support!

      To be clear, Brad did ask me, and I said yes. My reasons are over in my Disavowal post.

      1. Just read that. Eh, even though I think the Sad Puppies is a redundant process at the very least this garbage has ensured that there’s a greater awareness of the process and will lead to more people participating. Here hoping there’s better community outreach and building next year to avoid this same nastiness. This should be a celebration of the genre and appreciation of authors, such as yourself, not a fight over who can tear each other down.

  9. Also despite attempts to be angry at, say, Jim Butcher he is in a position to just plain ignore it – he’s white, male, famous, and well paid.

      1. @Toast – That’s not how I’m reading Senji’s comment, btw. I’m reading it more along the lines of “Butcher can ignore it because HE GETS PAID.”

        Also, I’ve since heard through the grapevine that Butcher is taking some heat, too, so I feel for him.

  10. Good points. My advice, take the hurt, the hypocrisy and what is clearly your great understanding of human nature and create something that cannot help but tell ’em like it is.

  11. I have no problem with telling VD (isn’t that a precious acronym for him?) that he is a self serving fool whose actions will benefit nobody, including himself. The hubris he has displayed by getting himself nominated twice and six(?) of the nominations are from his publishing company are mind boggling. It shows that either the pool from which he is dredging deserving nominees is incredibly shallow or else he is so desperate to win the win the award that he sees no problem in this.
    It must be really hard for an author, particularly one who is lesser known, to find a piece of work on which they have spent much time crafting and of which they are proud on such a list. They most probably feel the work is good, and as such should be judged and voted on, but at the same time their nomination is tainted by the actions of the rabid puppies and VD.

    Some have decided it is not worth being on the ballot and have asked their nomination to withdrawn (which very brave as they are now getting shit from both sides), while others, for whatever reason, have decided to let their nomination stand. This does not necessarily make them fellow travelers of VD and the RPs.

    Those who are opposed to VD and/or slate nominations and take out their displeasure on the authors whose inclusion on the slate was done without their knowledge is stupid and they are frankly being assholes.

    If however, the nominees declare that they agree with and support VDs actions, then they too should take some of the heat that is directed at VD, but not by calling them by epithets.

    I will read, and vote, with as open a mind as possible, but I must admit that both will be tainted by the knowledge of how the stories got on the list.

  12. Ms. English:

    Another ball here, checking in. If I were to print shirts with the Sarkeesian quote and art of a rocketship taking off of a football, would you be interested in one?

    I am in the double-think position of having sold words to Vox which got nominated on both the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies slates. I found out about the Sad Puppies slate on the day Brad announced it.

    I write what I write to entertain, and for a paycheck. I am no more responsible for the morals or ethics of the person who pays me for the words than I am for the moral or ethics of the people who buy the finished book.

    I will consider the position that I’m to be held responsible for what my editor believes if and only if everyone who ever had a book edited by serial sexual harasser Jim Frenkel agrees to the same standard.

    Read the works. Vote your conscience. In that order.

      1. Will do, Ms. English. Please email me (you should have my email address from WordPress) and I’ll send you early mockups on the art.

        I confess to a certain amount of schadenfreude about using a Sarkeesian quote in support of Sad Puppies… 🙂

    1. That does, indeed, sound like a very cool idea for a shirt!

      You are responsible for yourself and no one else. As Heinlein said, you’re competing for someone’s beer money.

    2. I would like to get a tee shirt. I think that is awesome. Just like the lovely shirt the comet man wore and was scorned about.

  13. The one thing I have to comment on is, so what if he (Vox Day) nominated your story, or someone else’s for the Hugo? And I’m really rather annoyed that people are attacking those he nominated, because they’re being incredibly childish and stupid.

    Vox nominated people either because 1) he actually liked their story, or 2) he was planting a trap.

    In any case, hating something because someone you hate likes it? What, are we all six here? Anyone giving any of the nominees grief over their being nominated by Vox should be told to go get stuffed, and the emails published so everyone can see what an idiot they are.

    And it also proves that Larry and Brad were right, there is a lock on the Hugo’s, and anyone who doesn’t ‘deserve’ one in the eyes of the self-appointed elite, will be publicly pilloried until they self-flagellate.
    And that’s just wrong.

    Sorry that you have to deal with this, it’s never fun to suffer guilt by perceived association.

    1. I have to agree with the “so what?” argument. A reader liked my story. It doesn’t matter if the reader is Jane Doe or Vox Day. I have no control over who likes my work and who doesn’t. I don’t know who the reader is, what their views are, or what they ate for breakfast. The idea that I can be evaluated at the level of my basic humanity by who does or does not like my work is frankly bizarre.

      I’m pretty sure GRRM said something similar in one of his blog posts, that the whole “were they contacted?” line of questioning was a red herring.

      1. GRRM did say that. However this plays out, I look forward to the chance to read your work (and buy more, if I like it!).

      2. And here is the thing that people also miss: If someone you disagree with, or dislike, or even hate, reads your story and likes it, it means that you at least have the ability to show them your ideas and beliefs, and do so in a way that they are willing to listen to.

        And that right there is amazing. People shouldn’t say “Oh ‘x’ liked your story, you’re BAD!” They should be saying “Oh ‘x’ liked your story, maybe YOU can open a dialogue!”

  14. I’ve seen it said that slate nominating is abhorrent regardless of which ‘side’ does it, and I’m inclined to agree. Slate nominating ultimately leads to the formation of ‘political party’ equivalents — competing slates. At that point, there’s no longer any point to anyone nominating anything unless they’re part of a slate, because slates will always overcome individuals. And then it’s just an issue of who gets to create the slate; that one person gets to control who’s on the ballot — indeed, Mr Torgersen collected suggestions from his readers, and then largely (though not wholly) discarded them in favor of what seems to be have been his own preferences. How many people nominated Ms English because they’d read and adored her work, and how many nominated Ms English because Mr Torgersen and/or Mr Beale said “nominate Ms English” ? And does it matter?

    I’ve voted “no award” on the Hugos in the past when I did not feel that any entry in a given category deserved to win, and I plan to do so again (assuming that the Hugos continue to exist), regardless of whether or not they are on a slate. In fact, it appears that my tastes differ so much from those of Mr Beale and/or Mr Torgersen that, from what I’ve read so far (although granted I haven’t read all of it yet) I can rank his/their selections below “no award” and leave them off my ballot, based solely on their merit (or lack thereof).

    How many other people feel the way I do, and legitimately dislike (or otherwise find to not be award material) the content of the Puppy slate? Since Mr Torgersen’s and/or Mr Beale’s selections have been of material which does not typically win, or get nominated for, Hugos, could this potentially indicate that the bulk of Hugo voters do not like it and would vote “No Award” for it this time (the same way that they could have voted “No Award” all the other years) ?

    1. Perhaps even knowing that a work is affiliated with the Puppies is having an effect on your judgement of it. I know that it would affect mine, so I’ve been reading based on a combined Hugo + Nebula nominee list (you can find it here). The Nebula nominees weren’t affected by the Puppy slates so they should be roughly the same stories that would otherwise have been on the Hugo list.

      For what it’s worth, my top 5 in the short story section included 3 Hugo and 2 Nebula nominees, and my “below No Award” category includes one of each. So to me that seems like a pretty strong refutation of the “Puppies nominated politically driven crap” narrative. Totaled is actually my pick for the best of the whole bunch, which is why I came to Ms English’s site.

      1. Hi, Kevin,

        Thank you for stopping by, and thank you as well for taking measures to be fair-minded in your reading. As you might imagine, your kind words about my work are especially welcome right now.

    2. I think this is all very true, and expresses my feelings as well. I have been wondering how anyone will be able to tell the difference between those who No Award the slate and those who just don’t happen to like the writing? I’m sure people on all sides will be able to make political hay with any results though.

  15. Danny,

    I’ve read works every year I didn’t think were worthy of being nominated for a Hugo. I’m sure everyone feels that way, and every year there are always good works left off the ballot. I can name three or four off the top of my head that I liked, and believe they were nominated in some small number. IIRC, something like 580 individual novels were nominated for best Novel this year alone, which means even though I really liked Under a Darkling Sea, it was lost in the noise, because people felt there were other, better works out there. When you consider that 2100 nominations were received, it’s easy to see how a good work could get lost this year. In the past, a book needed maybe 50 or 60 votes to clear the threshold, with the larger number of people voting, its going to take more.

    I came across Kary work as part of Correia’s Book Bomb.(http://monsterhunternation.com/2015/02/25/book-bomb-short-stories-from-the-sad-puppies-slate/). He did that for every major category, and I think you’ll find a great many of the SP voters read a lot of those. I didn’t vote everything Brad recommended, but the book bombs did open my eyes to some great stories (I really liked Annie Belletts work, and was quite sad when she withdrew). This…impression…that somehow all of us SP voters just looked at what Brad put together and said “Why yes, I’ll vote for all of those eve if I haven’t read them” borders on the fantastical and ludicrous. Herding all the cats in one room is one thing, getting them to all go out through the same door…forget it. The ballot numbers alone show that the SP/RP voters weren’t as united as some want them to be.

    With regards to slates, well, to paraphrase “Everyone likes a Democratic system, until someone comes along and does it better.” Peoples tastes vary. Thats one of the reasons Sad Puppies came into being. As long as you make an effort to read the works and judge them fairly within your standards, no one will argue with that, and if anyone does, they are being asshats and you can ignore them.


  16. Two minor points of fact:

    There are no documented cases of Vietnam War soldiers being spat on. The meme appears to have come from a movie.

    Doxing and threats are not limited to one side.

    That said, I hate what has happened to a community that was never united, but that once tried to be a place where everyone was accepted.

      1. There are people who claim it happened to them. They may be telling the truth. They may be lying. They may be victims of false memory syndrome. The situation is further complicated by people who used “spitting” metaphorically and are interpreted literally. But so far as I know, it continues to be true that there’s no documentation of an incident.

        Apologies for the digression.

        1. I guess they must produce notarized letters of authenticity, Mister Shetterly. And then you will ask for videotapes and then DNA scans.
          At the end of the day no testimony will satisfy you because you don’t want to believe.

          1. /moderator hat on

            Gentlemen, I thank you for your contributions. However, I’m going to declare the “did anyone spit?” question as off-topic and unfalsifiable for the purposes of this blog.

    1. I had unthinkingly accepted spitting-on-soldiers as true and am pleased to hear that it didn’t (or at least may not have) happened.

      As for trying to accept everyone — well, I trust you’ve read Larry Correia’s comments on his experiences: it’s been some little while since fandom presented as welcoming to conservatives. Whether it’s better to leave that be or force confrontation with the truth is a more fraught question.

        1. Fair enough: I went to a few Cons in… I guess it was the 80s and early 90s… and only started paying attention again in 2012 (when Worldcon came to my city). Not sure how much the goldening effect of time has affected my memories of the early ones.

  17. While I have some sympathy with you (especially if you have received harassment), it was your choice not to withdraw your story from nomination when it was on the Rabid/Sad Puppy slate. That would have been the honest and honorable thing to do. You didn’t choose to do it. As a voter for the Hugos, I cannot and will not vote for anything on that slate. It doesn’t mean I think you are some kind of monster. It does mean that I think you made a very bad choice in not withdrawing which gives the appearance that you align yourself with these people.

    1. JR,

      You do realize that by doing so, you are proving one of the many points SP is making?

      If you read her excellent Disavowal post, you’ll see how and why she aligns with the SP recommendations.

      As a Hugo voter, you’re supposed to be judging the works as they are written, not who they are written by, or who they associate, or appear to associate, with. And honestly, if you want to swing that big brush of Guilt by Association around, you’ll get hit with a bigger brush in return, and it wouldn’t be pretty.

      If you cannot in good conscience read the works and vote on them appropriately, why vote?

    2. Hi, JR,

      I’d like to engage with this a little.

      Who are “these people,” and what do you mean by “align myself”?

      I’ve known Brad in person since sometime in 2011, I believe, maybe 2012. I consider him a professional colleague and a friend. He is not a racist or sexist, as he’s been portrayed, and while I don’t know his views on, say, marriage equality, he and I have gay friends in common and I’ve never seen him treat them poorly. Brad and I probably have some political differences (we’ve not ever talked politics in detail), and we also differ on things like “to what degree should one moderate comments on one’s blog?”

      I also don’t agree with the thrust of anti-SJW comments prevalent in the larger Puppy discourse. If the Puppies’ goal is to bring attention to good but overlooked works, the whole SJW-heads-exploding thing is both off-topic and mean-spirited in a way I don’t approve of. That’s a conversation Brad and I will have to have at some point. But I can’t lay all of that at Brad’s door, either. The bulk of it comes from commenters – so now I’m responsible for the commenters on Brad’s blog? On Larry’s blog? On Vox’s blog, or dear Lord, on Reddit and places I’ve never been? Nah, doesn’t work that way, not for me anyway.

      Incidentally, if you haven’t read my Disavowal post, I’d recommend it (my thoughts on slate voting are there, too, in the comments). Sad Puppies was presented to me as “this is about quality work by overlooked authors.” That’s the bit I signed on for, and to encourage what I saw as a desire to move SP away from the toxicity of the past.

      But perhaps by “these people” you actually mean Vox Day? I had no idea Vox was going to run a counter slate. I’ve never interacted with him, don’t read his blog, etc. Not my circus; not my monkey. I don’t remember exactly when I found out, but still, let me engage with the general idea that if Vox lists or likes someone’s work, that person has to withdraw their nomination. Vox said he would have nominated The Three Body problem if he’d read it in time. So if he had, Ken Liu would now be expected ti withdraw his nomination lest he appear to “align himself with these people.” If so, that means Vox Day can hold anyone’s work hostage at any time. Vox Day liked your book? No Hugo for you, my good sir! Off the ballot you go!

      Why would Ken Liu get a pass and not the rest of us, given that none of us knew it was coming, and given that even GRRM says that knowing it was coming is actually irrelevant? Is it because Ken had other support, so essentially because he’s more well-known? So big names are OK, but the little people have to suffer? That doesn’t make sense either, but even so, Totaled had Hugo buzz months before Sad Puppies, so I had outside support as well. So did Annie Bellet, who apparently had the most nominations out of the original five on the shortlist.

      Your comment about giving the appearance that I align myself with these people sounds like you mean it as an attempt to shame me. Is that the intent, that certain of the nominees should be shamed? Because many of the nominees have received private communications with that message. Some of those communications also include threats of professional blacklisting (e.g. variations on “you’ll never work again”).

      So now I have to ask – are you comfortable aligning yourself with that? Because I think it’s bullying, and I’m not going to be held hostage by a shame campaign, and I’m not going to give in to bullies. (Note: that’s an honest question, JR, not a rhetorical trap. Perhaps you wouldn’t take it that far yourself. Though we’ve not interacted all that much on Kboards, you’re one of the posters I generally like. 🙂 )

      1. Well, as I understand it — and this is also a response to Andrew, above — Sad Puppies was constructed as a front for Rabid Puppies, and the two slate-makers were largely (if not wholly) in collusion with each other. Ms English is certainly not at fault for having been taken in (and, as I’ve said before, I look forward to reading more of her work).

        Some URLs which may be useful (although you’re certainly free to disregard both the data and the conclusions drawn from it):




        1. No, I don’t think Sad Puppies was created as a front for Rabid Puppies, though I suppose it makes a nice conspiracy theory. 😀

          1. Rabid Puppies was a follow-on to Sad Puppies. Sad Puppies 3 had people in it who only allowed themselves to be added if Vox Day wasn’t involved.

          2. I seriously doubt SP3 was created as a front for anything. If anything, it may have been hijacked by RP, but SP3 came into being as a followup to the first two. I see SP3 as a group of fans doing what fans do-nominating people and works they liked. There are quite a few people with ties to Baen, MSG and other things. In other words, typical fannish stuff, save that a list was openly put together and efficiently promoted.

            Me no like lists, lists make brain hurt like DP Gumby. (Sorry, but at this point, if I don’t laugh, I’ll scream).

        2. Brad and Larry have no reason to lie about Vox’s lack of involvement in SP3 (nor does Kate Paulk with SP4), and frankly, it bothers me that many are taking the lazy way out and assuming that because Jim Butcher, Kevin Anderson, and other nominees haven’t disavowed or recused themselves from the ballot, they must agree WITH EVERYTHING VOX SAYS AND DOES. You realize how crazy that “logic” is? How has that behavior become accepted, let alone tolerated? By Kritzer’s standards, because I like OSC books, Wagnerian Opera, and am a Braves fan, I’m an intolerant Anti-Semite who mocks Native Americans.

          Frankly, its mind boggling the mental gymnastics and anguish people are putting themselves through to somehow make Vox the ultimate “man behind the curtain twirling his evil mustachio” type of villain in this, yet they accept at face value the statement of “There’s never ever been any sort of behind the scenes slate or logrolling in Previous Hugo nominations.”

          Honestly, if people put as much effort into reading the nominated works as they do trying to link Vox to everything associated with the Hugos this year, they’d be happier.

          1. “By Kritzer’s standards, because I like OSC books, Wagnerian Opera, and am a Braves fan, I’m an intolerant Anti-Semite who mocks Native Americans.”

            That’s interesting, because I am pretty sure I never said anything that could lead to “people who like OSC books and Wagernian Opera are intolerant anti-Semites,” given that I like both OSC’s books and Wagnerian opera. I have no quarrel with people who like Larry Correia’s writing. Or Wright’s. I routinely recommend several of Card’s books and I’ve been published in IGMS.

            The point of my post was this: there is abundant evidence that Vox Day was involved in creating the SP slate.

            “Brad and Larry have no reason to lie about Vox’s lack of involvement in SP3 (nor does Kate Paulk with SP4)”

            In fact, Brad and Larry haven’t denied that VD was involved in picking the slate. They’ve actually been very careful not to say anything about how the slate was put together, which is a little surprising given that one of SP’s supposed goals is transparency.

            Correia has repeatedly pointed out that he’s not VD (true), that VD isn’t on the SP slate (true), that he doesn’t agree with VD on many topics (glad to hear it), that he doesn’t control VD (true)…. but nowhere has Correia said, “a group of us discussed the suggestions and helped Brad put together the slate, but although I called it the ELoE, we didn’t actually include VD on the e-mails.”

          2. So you want people to judge you only on what you wrote and not put words in your mouth, but you want people to judge Brad and Larry on the words you put in their mouths, and not on what they actually wrote?

    3. So responding to this:

      And here it is! After much combobulating, the official SAD PUPPIES 3 slate is assembled! As noted earlier in the year, the SAD PUPPIES 3 list is a recommendation. Not an absolute. Gathered here is the best list (we think!) of entirely deserving works, writers, and editors — all of whom would not otherwise find themselves on the Hugo ballot without some extra oomph received from beyond the rarefied, insular halls of 21st century Worldcon “fandom.”

      Which is where YOU guys come in. Everyone who’s signed up as a full or supporting member of either Loncon 3 (last year’s Worldcon) or Sasquan (this year’s Worldcon) or MidAmeriCon II (next year’s Worldcon.) If you agree with our slate below — and we suspect you might — this is YOUR chance to make sure YOUR voice is heard. This is YOUR award (as SF/F’s self-proclaimed “most prestigious award”) and YOU get to have a say in who is acknowledged.

      is dishonorable.

      But offering 75 prepaid memberships distributed by Mary Robinette Kowal is not?

      To quote a certain Mr. Montoya:

      You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Unless you’re from Chicago, perhaps?

      Vote “No Award” if you feel none of the works below it are worthy. Voting “No Award” on the “fruit of the poisoned tree” doctrine is petty posturing to remain in good odor with one faction. You know, the faction that includes Requires Hate and Hapisofi?

      Using this doctrine – that anyone who chooses to associate with a group is responsible for the excesses of people outside of their control, means that every Christian is culpable for the excesses of Westboro Baptist and every Muslim is an apologist for ISIL.

      Shared joy is increased.
      Shared pain is diminished.
      Shared insanity is a political party.

      1. Everyone who fills out their own ballot based on what they themselves consider to be the best, rather than following a slate with the purpose of “making conservatives angry” or “upsetting liberals”.

  18. It appears from the numbers available that the Sad Puppies did not really matter in the end. The Rabid Puppies were the real power house. In every case where the slates differed the Rabid Puppies won. So the Sad Puppies are effectively irrelevant to the debate (and confuse the issue by the claim that they are relevant). So really, you were nominated by Vox Day and his Rabid Puppies, a group which evidence suggests voted in lockstep with their puppet master, and, probably, proudly even, did not read most of the works they were nominating. A blogger sympathetic to the Sad Puppies collected this information at the link below:

    So, you owe your nomination really to the opinion of one man. And what a man he is:

    If I, personally, were offered a trophy by an devil, even if it was for nothing directly related to devilry, I would refuse it, but I understand one might go another way.

    I have no interest in punishing you for choosing differently than I would. I still watch movies with actors in them that worked with Roman Polanski. I will read your story and, if it is good (and the quality of your blog’s writing suggest it will be), then I will vote for it. And I hope if you deservedly win, you can enjoy the victory free from the tainted path that brought that victory to you.

    1. Why did you post a link to someone writing about Vox Day and not a link to Vox Day? I’ve found the links to bloggers writing about Vox Day have been playing very fast and loose with his actual quotes. So, how about posting to the primary source instead of the propaganda?

      FWIW, I’m not a fan of Vox Day, but I have found many of the attacks on him — ostensibly based on what he’s supposed to have said — to be ill informed or downright dishonest. Which pretty much lowers those attackers to a level beneath him. I’m sure that’s not where any of you wanted to be. But there you are.

      As for slates, I think it’s absurd to demand someone disassociate themselves from someone who recommended them. Read the work. If you’re too lazy to do that then I guess there’s nothing for it but to do as you’re told and vote “no award”. Wait … that sounds like what Vox Day and his supporters are supposed to have done. Isn’t that a pickle?

      1. Well, first, I said alreday I fully intend on reading everything and voting to my taste. So I am not sure what your last paragraph is responding to, but it is not me.

        Here he is calling homosexuality a birth defect:
        Here he is on the subject of rape (the last paragraph is especially fun):
        There is NK Jemisin response, the original of which has been removed from the internet, but has been quoted widely enough that we can assume it was really said.

        I, sadly, have a day job that I am not attending to, so will have to stop there.

        And honestly, I think I am approaching this from the wrong angle. I have been reading so much about this I finally commented, but in a place and a way that I don’t think is particularly useful. I apologize to Kary if I caused any discomfort, and I think I will return to lurking. All I am managing to do is make myself sad, and contribute to a unsalvageably polarized debate.

  19. So sorry you’ve been caught in the middle of things that are not your fault!

    I’m voting anti-slate for the good of the award in the long run, but I bear no ill will towards anyone caught in this without their own doing.

  20. Hi Karry-

    I first read your work as part of Larry’s book bomb and thought it was terrific! I subsequently purchased the rest of your work that was available on Amazon and my main complaint is MOAR! You need to produce more!

    I was proud to nominate your work and think it would honor the Hugo.
    It’s absolutely atrocious that people are giving you grief about who recommended your work – and the even sillier notion that you should request to have your work not be considered for its excellence and ask people not to purchase it… Please Larry, don’t book bomb my stuff as people might purchase it, read it, and like it. ???

    Hang in there and keep in mind that fans like me nominated you and your work.

    I am sorry that you had to put up with the abuse – but very glad that you have stayed the course and I look forward to your future rocket possession.

  21. The anti-slate purists never told their friends their favorite stories? They never recommended what they thought they should vote for on the drive to the convention hall, or argued and lobbied in the bar for why their choice was best? That’s part of it. The difference here, and what astounds me given it’s for a science fiction award is the medium of recommendation. I can’t believe the outrage, I can only assume it’s because the stakes are so low that the acrimony is so vitriolic.

  22. Is it unfair to the slate-riders to rank them below ‘no award’ just because the slate-maker chose them, instead of because their stories were inadequate for whatever reason? Yes, BUT that’s why so many people who’ve said they would do this, describe it as a painful or unpleasant decision (and if you quote me on the ‘yes’ without saying the rest, you owe me $500,000). There is no right answer here, only a choice of wrongs. This is also a contributing factor to why Ms Bellet and Mr Kloos chose to withdraw: they concluded that withdrawing was the lesser evil. You are certainly free to disagree with them.

    Mr Torgersen said that his slate (which he announced and described as a slate) was merely a list of recommendations. Mr Beale said that he expected his followers to use the exact contents of his slate. Mr Torgersen’s slate included several stories published by Mr Beale’s wholly-owned micro-press, Castalia House. Mr Beale has been deeply involved with the Sad Puppies campaign since its beginning — in fact, Mr Correia explicitly stated that he chose a story by Mr Beale last year not just because he liked the story, but because he wished to upset people: “I nominated (Mr Beale) because Satan didn’t have any eligible works that period.” Mr Beale’s slate was posted less than 24 hours after Mr Torgersen’s slate, with a logo custom-produced by the same artist who did Mr Torgersen’s logo, and near-identical contents. There’s more supporting evidence for those who care to look for it, but ultimately I’d just be repeating it and… what’s the opposite of “preaching to the choir”? When you know that the choir won’t accept proof?

    It would be ridiculous to abjure whatever Mr Torgersen and/or Mr Beale endorse, just because they endorsed it – for instance, both they and I live in the Northern Hemisphere, breathe oxygen, eat food, and wear clothing. Even if they make a recommendation for a work of SF, that’s not enough for me to decide that I don’t want to read that particular work. But I can definitely choose to reject any of the projects which Mr Torgersen and/or Mr Beale launch, run, manage, and/or administer. And in this case, the project is “the Puppies slate”: not ‘reading these stories’, but ‘being okay with the fact that the use of organized slates and voting blocs got these stories onto the Hugo ballot, and then ranking these stories as if I were okay with it’.

    I had nothing in particular against Mr Torgersen prior to his involvement in this, even though I disagree with him on a great many issues and am not a major fan of his writing. I don’t even have anything against him for having been on the slate last year (or… did he get on the ballot without the slate?). I think he’s being a real jerk about this issue, though, and much less than honest. And as is my right, I will vote my conscience.

    As for Mr Beale, I will not comment further.

    1. /Moderator hat on

      I would prefer that Gentlebeings Burnside and Sichel continue their discussion elsewhere. I have disallowed one of Sichel’s comments, and, in the spirit of even-handedness, I’ve removed the comment of Burnside’s to which Sichel was responding.

      If the parties wish to continue the discussion, they are free to do so. Just not here.

      Just as I prefer not to be used as the ball, similarly, I prefer that my online home not be used as a battleground.

  23. Kary,
    I just read your entry “Totalled” I really liked it. Better than Goodnight Stars because it had science and it was a unique perspective. Better yet the character was very real. Especially for a short story. I still have to check out the other entries but I thought your story was very good!

    1. Hmm, this reads as a drive-by potshot, so I considered not approving it.

      That said, “Full Definition of TROPE
      1 a : a word or expression used in a figurative sense : figure of speech

      I was unable to determine, based on primary sources, whether Sarkeesian was the originator of that quote or not. Ergo, until the original source can be verified, I’ll call it a trope.

      General note to others tempted to leave comments that consist of drive-by potshots: I am disinclined to acquiesce to your request.

  24. So here we have VD… again… what he says and what he does. For the eleventh million time, I’m asking by what standard. What is the standard in play here, one that we can all benefit and be judged by and in turn judge others by. Does VD live on a world without dictionaries, or a dimension where rules bend back on themselves?

    Let me give you an example. We have GLAAD – the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. We have the ADL – the Anti-Defamation League. There’s your principle – defamation. It is not a word that flies around on wings and lights on the shoulders of only some groups and some people. It is not a goal post with jet-powered legs some never catch up to and others always do. It is a standard – a rule of conduct in cultural custom and practice. It is similar to a speed limit. It is obvious some people are hyper-interested in the concept, or all this talk of exclusion and oppression wouldn’t be happening in the first place.

    What is the concept?

    We are all against group defamation. What is the speed limit? Until I – we – know that, this thing will spin in circles like a web page that never loads. Are you going to tell me adults in a literary community in 21st century America can’t define such a thing?

    But I’ll give you a hint: People are this very minute on the net obsessively defaming people by their race and sex. Pretending they don’t exist or have some completely different speed limit works fine for them. Not for me. I will never accept these double standards. The reason you see us all arguing past each other while thinking this is the game is because the game hasn’t even started; it can’t. There are no rules. There isn’t even a game to start.

    Were I able, I’d call for a boycott against all comments on the entire affair until the community crowdsources a definition. Let’s start the race at a starting line.

    Or we can continue to babble from our respective towers towards no purpose whatsoever.

  25. Late to the party here, but I hope it’s never too late to say that I am so sorry people are flinging abuse at you and that I think that kind of behavior is completely unacceptable, whatever one thinks of the SP/RPs. I really enjoyed reading totaled; I found the protagonist relatable and sympathetic, the neuroscience credible, and her method of identifying herself to her collaborator was really clever. I’ m amazed she didn’t go insane when not working, being essentially stuck in a sensory isolation tank… Couldn’t they have played her books on tape or something?

    Anyway, I may vote No Award for the category purely to discourage future slates. It has nothing to do with story quality in your case, and I eagerly anticipate purchasing and reading your future work.

  26. Hi Kary,

    I finished your story last night and just posted my review. I did enjoy it and look forward to reading more of your work. This is my first year voting in the Hugo Awards and am not sure what quality of short story normally makes it on the ballot and I don’t have time to read everything for this year and survey the past.

    I am very sorry that the authors nominated are being blamed for the method of certain voters who nominated them. I think it’s a natural side effect in American Politics where you see a politician is being bankrolled by Nestle and whether or not you like the politician you immediately think they will be representing Nestle more than the people, etc etc.

    All that said, and if you read the post linked to below you can find details as to why, I don’t think Totaled is Hugo material. I think you have Hugo material in you and over time with a writing group or other good feedback that you will acheive that spot but not this one.


    Very sorry that this is your 2015 Hugos experience and I hope I’m not making it worse but I also hope that by voting according to my own beliefs around works I have read/examined that I can help contribute to the overall sense that this year’s winners are winning not because of slates but because people went and read and rightly chose. And if Totaled does win I would not argue it.

    Take care,

    1. I really do not care how the stories were nominated but on the quality of them . I have read some of the entries and so far your story Totalled is my top choice. Keep up the good work!!

  27. Hi Kary,

    PLEASE keep up the good work. Departure Gate 34B was nice, another ‘where the heart is’ moment. I’m starting my short story list for the next Hugo nominations and an English or two will make it special. Does Poseidon have a 2015 copyright?

    Hugs and Prayers

  28. Thanks, Bill! Yes, Poseidon’s Eyes was released in May of 2015.

    Moderator note: I’ve just blocked a comment that took a swipe at one of my readers, so I’d like to remind everyone that I have high standards for civility on this blog. Attacking readers is beyond the pale and I won’t allow it.

    Take the culture war elsewhere.

  29. I really like your comments about Anger. I work with clients weekly who are dealing with anger in the professional and personal lives. Thank you so much.

  30. Kary, this is an important posting, and a sharp reminder that the people caught up in this mess are exactly that – people. It’s also a reminder that social justice and bullying are mutually incompatible.

    However, there’s one point you make I’d like to clarify. When you say “I have seen at least one suggestion that all of us should be euthanized, a euphemism and allegedly funny word for murder,” did someone actually say that the nominees should be painlessly killed, or do you mean that someone made an off-colour joke about putting down puppies? While the latter would be unkind at best and creepy at worst, I think it’s worth being precise about what was said.

    1. Hi, Kate,

      Unfortunately, I have seen all of the above. My use of the word euthanize was specific to the comment I’d seen (meaning that was the word used by the commenter). Since then, I’ve lost count of the jokes about putting puppies down, and I’ve seen someone say that the Sad Puppies should all commit suicide. When confronted, the suicide commenter doubled down. Most of these comments – but not all of them – tend to refer to the Puppies in general, but some of them have specifically addressed the nominees and many of them draw no distinction between Puppy leaders, Puppy supporters and the nominees.

      Jokes or not, the sheer volume of them has gone way beyond creepy.

  31. Gross. This brouhaha clearly contains not just some well-planned precision trolling, but also the Internet’s usual splatter of unfiltered, spontaneous ugliness. Anyway, nil illegitimi carborundum: don’t let the bastards grind you down.

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