The Disavowal

There’s a call in certain corners of the internet for disavowals from people on the Sad Puppies slate.Β  Here’s mine:

I disavow racism wherever I find it.

Calling someone a half-savage because of race? I disavow it. Denying someone’s ethnicity and heritage because that makes it easier to stereotype them asΒ  white oppressors? I disavow it. Calling a whole slate racist because of someone who’s not even on it or because some of the people are white? I disavow it.

My characters come from multiple races and ethnicities because they’re drawn from the vast diversity of the world around me. I write them as faithfully and authentically as I can. If I should stumble, my hope is that the world will correct me when needed and accept an apology when offered.

I disavow sexism.

My dyslexia went undiagnosed until college because my teachers attributed my struggles with math to my gender. “She doesn’t do well in math because she’s a girl. We don’t think she should take BASIC. She should try Home Ec instead.”

I write well-rounded, believable characters. Some of those characters are male. Some of those characters are female. Some are good; some are bad. Some are strong; some are weak. Giving the hot babe to a male character as a reward or a quest token? I disavow it. Making men into villains, in fiction or in the real world, simply because they’re men? I disavow it. #YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen

I disavow homophobia.

I support gay rights and marriage equality. My body of work is small, but it includes positively written gay and lesbian characters. Some of that work isn’t out yet, but I put gay and lesbian characters in my work because they belong there and they deserve to be there. They’re part of this world. They’re part of my world, and they’re part of the worlds I create.

I disavow religious discrimination.

I support faith and non-faith. Marginalizing an author for his or her Islamic faith? I disavow it. Marginalizing an author for his or her Christian (including Mormon) faith? I disavow it.

I disavow political litmus tests.

I don’t care whether an author’s politics are right, left, center or upside down. If their work is good and suits my taste, I’ll buy it and read it. Shunning an author or a group of fans because their political views are different from my own? I disavow it.

I disavow judging a group based on the actions of a few.

I form my opinions of people and of creative works on an individual basis, based on the work itself or what the individual has said or done. Guilt by association? I disavow it.

I disavow vitriol and kerfuffles on the internet.

I loathe internet drama. I almost said no to Sad Puppies because I knew drama would follow. There is vitriol on both sides, and I disavow it. I will not take part in the vitriol, and I will do what I can to keep the kerfuffle to a minimum.

Working for change? I avow and affirm it.

I said yes to Sad Puppies this year because I saw the seeds of change. I saw an organizer who wanted to broaden the slate. Sad Puppies includes greater political variety, more women, more people of color and more non-het writers than it ever has before, and I wanted to support that growth.

Change comes in baby steps. Is Sad Puppies as diverse or inclusive as I’d like it to be? No, not yet, but I said yes in support of that first baby step. My view is that when someone makes a good faith effort to be more ecumenical, when someone reaches across the aisle and extends a hand to the other side, someone has to cross over. Insularity breeds more insularity. Brad made a gesture, and I wanted to support it.

Being the change you want to see in the world? I avow and affirm it.


*A note about comments: they’re moderated, which means this is a dictatorship. Whether or not it’s a benevolent dictatorship depends on the nature of the comment. πŸ˜‰

49 thoughts on “The Disavowal

  1. “Is Sad Puppies as diverse or inclusive as I’d like it to be? No, not yet, but I said yes in support of that first baby step.”

    This statement shows that you have missed one of the main points of the campaign. I do not want diversity or inclusivity in my Hugo Award nominees, I want a strict monoculture of excellence. The particular shape, color, or proclivities of the authors who write those excellent stories is irrelevant.

    1. In an ideal world, I agree with you 100% – excellence and only excellence. Regrettably, we live in an imperfect world, and strict measures of excellence often get muddled by any number of things. As an example, an editor once told Writers of the Future winner Patty Jansen that he would hesitate to buy hard SF written by a woman. Sorry, if it’s excellent, he should buy it and the author’s gender shouldn’t matter. But because it does matter, because humans tend to be a melange of biases, both conscious and unconscious, I think it’s both wise and necessary to search for excellence in places we’re not accustomed to looking.

      1. It may not be an ideal world -but that doesn’t mean I have to go out of my way to include someone based on a false – and irrelevant to intellectual pursuits such as writing and ideas – diversity of color, gender, race, sexual preference, or whatever.

        They may be markers that correlate to some differences in outlook and background, but adding people because of their physical characteristics does nothing to improve the writing. I don’t want more stories by women because they’re by women, and OK stories, I want more awesome stories, and don’t care who they’re by.

        Instead, go encourage more people of to read, and write. Show them how awesome SF can be (based on the content of it’s character and not the color or gender of its authors). And if more choose SF than they have in the past (instead of romance, or whatever) then GREAT. If more write awesome stories for us to enjoy, then GREAT.

        If not – they’re free to choose.

      2. “an editor once told Writers of the Future winner Patty Jansen that he would hesitate to buy hard SF written by a woman.”

        This anecdote needs quite a bit more context. “An editor” could mean anything from some schmoe who copyedits for commission, to a minor employee of a small house, to an executive in a major house; and we cannot exclude the hypothesis that it never happened. The objective fact is that editors have been buying SF, hard and otherwise, written by women for decades.

        I have no problem with people exploring new seams in the search for excellent stories, especially when they share their discoveries with me. I don’t even have much of a problem with short-term disciplines like “read only women authors for a year.” I do have a problem with giving an author a nomination or award based on her gender, race, orientation, or nationality. It’s the soft bigotry of lowered expectations.

  2. First of all, congratulations on Totaled, which I just read at Wattpad. I’ll be buying the magazine where it originally appeared, because it is that good.

    As to the whole “Sad Puppies” thing-I just looked at the Hugo final ballot and noticed some troubling things. Apparently, one writer’s work is so exceptional that he comprises fully one-third of the short fiction nominees, with fully three-fifths of one category. Three of the pieces are from one book of short pieces and all of them are from the same publishing house. A publishing house edited by the source for one of the lists being circulated and urging people to nominate works from their “slate” of suggested works. That editor also received nominations in both editor categories.

    Nothing made the ballot in any short fiction category from, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons or Lightspeed, even though the latter three were nominated for Best Semiprozine. Apparently, of the major print magazines, only Analog was worthy of notice, with four stories nominated. Asimov’s and F & SF were shut out.

    Looking a bit deeper (sorry, but years doing accounting and taxes make me inclined to dig into things) the entirety of the three short fiction categories comes either off the “Sad Puppies 3” “slate” of titles or are works published by one publisher and/or edited by the editor who put out a list of his own. That doesn’t look like steps to improve the process. It looks like a palace coup.

    I don’t read with an eye towards the author’s views or an agenda. I read for pleasure and entertainment. As I said earlier in a post to another author’s blog, no author, not even Mark Twain or RAH, is good enough that he has three of the “best” five stories in a given category. It will be interesting to see the reactions from various parties involved, but, frankly, both sides are reminding me why I wandered away from fandom more than 20 years ago. Tom Disch complained more than 30 years ago about the clannish nature of the Hugo and Hugo nominators. It seems to me that the “Sad Puppies” set have proven, rather convincingly, that they’re better at getting what they favor nominated than the group of “elites” they point to as “gatekeepers” ever were.

    I’m sure some very good works made the ballot (your story, for example). But the final makeup of the ballot, with the heavy presence of works publish from one house whose editor was one of the driving forces behind a campaign to get nominations (seven of 15 short fiction nominees were published by Castalia House, almost half) is troubling.

    I wish you well on your nomination. Totaled is quite good. I fear that the squabbling around things will distract from everything else and nothing will but counting coup. Thank you for your time.

    1. I have to agree with you about the novella category. I like John C Wright’s work, but three out of five seems…a bit much.

      But oh well, that’s how the voting cookie crumbled.

      Back on topic. Hear, hear, Kary. Nicely said, and congrats! πŸ™‚

    2. Hi, Robert,

      Welcome, and thank you for the kind words.

      I’m not sure anyone anticipated just how many SP3 works would actually make the ballot. I know I didn’t. I wasn’t part of SP2 last year, but it was nowhere near this successful.

      The publisher you’re referring to comes from Rabid Puppies, not Sad Puppies. Different list, different organizers, etc. Even so, I’m a little uncomfortable that the overlap seems to have locked up so much of the slate. Representation and big tent? Yes. It’s nice to see people like Jim Butcher and Kevin J. Anderson on the ballot; they deserve to be there. Crowding out everything else? Me, personally, I’m not comfortable with that.

      From what I hear, there’s a push to change the rules so people can nominate something like four out out six possible slots. That sounds reasonable to me depending on how it’s written.

      Disclaimer: I am speaking only for myself here. I’m not an official spokespuppy. πŸ˜‰

      1. The publisher who put out the Rabid Puppies list was part of the SP2 campaign the year before. Seven of 15 works nominated were published by his imprint. A novelette he wrote was nominated last year and was one of the works championed by SP2, as I understand it.

        I’ve been reading Anderson since I came across some of his short fiction in F & SF and Amazing, picked up Resurrection, Inc. and it blew me away! I’m delighted he got nominated, just as I’m glad Arlan Andrews got nominated.

        I think Wright’s work is very good, what I’ve read of it. But fully one-third of the short fiction ballot being the work of one writer is unusual, to say the least. I haven’t read much of Jim Butcher’s work, just a couple of short stories. After I read far too many open-ended series novels, I started breaking out in hives, so I don’t read very many series at this point. My resources (both time and capital) have me reading fewer novels and more short fiction at this point. The stories I read, I liked. Butcher can write.

        I just have a dull ache behind my eyes from all the back and forth on this. It’s why I stopped going to conventions in the 1990s. It hasn’t changed. I doubt it ever will. I’m just going to continue reading what I like-period. The tempests in a time capsule can go on without me. Best wishes to you and yours.

    3. It may be it was a very good collection. Have you read it? If not, will you read it when the voters’ copies are circulated? It’s three different stories, and six different nominations overall, which suggests to me that a) he may be well worth reading; and b) he has a large, non-monolithic reader base who already think so.

      1. Wright is an excellent stylist with a voice that harkens back (at least in the pieces I’ve read) to C.S. Lewis and other authors of that era. My discomfort isn’t with him, specifically, but with the idea that two overlapping slates could lock up almost the entire ballot.

        I am not at all saying that the votes were not legitimate. The fans voted, the votes were counted, and therefore every nom is fairly earned.

        But if the goal of SP3 is to broaden the types of works on the Hugo ballot, that goal isn’t served by locking up the whole thing. Then again, I’m not conversant with the goals of the Rabid Puppies side of things. Perhaps they’re not the same.

        1. Also worth noting:

          There’s a difference between “I read most of the novellas this year, and John Wright had three of the best five that are eligible” and “I read three John Wright novellas this year, and all three were award worthy and in the top five of what I read”. I can see a chunk of the nominations being the latter.

          I think SP4 could be better by listing more potentials than can fit on the ballot (ideally, say, double); this has multiple potential good results: encouraging voters to have more works to judge their choices against; efforts to encourage people to read before nominating means more authors get paid; “slate dominance” is somewhat lessened.

      2. I haven’t read any of Wright’s five nominated stories yet. I intend to read as many of the nominees as I can, time permitting. I like his work, what I’ve read of it. That’s not what troubles me.

        What troubles me is that, one, there was an organized campaign to drum up nominations for a specific list of candidates, two, three of five novels and ALL 15 of the short fiction nominees were on either one or both of the lists being championed, three, five of 15 of the short pieces were done by ONE author and, four, seven of 15 short fiction nominees were published by an imprint which is edited by the source initiating one of the lists involved in the organized campaign.

  3. I disavow homophobia.

    I support gay rights and marriage equality

    Marriage is not a civil right. It is a religious sacrement. Civil marriage is simply a bureaucratic facsimile, only the allegiance is to the State.

    Good Luck with that in the World to Come,( that of course, I know , You don’t believe in)
    Where you will be tested.

    1. When I stand before my Maker, whether it’s today or some time in the future, I will do so knowing that I was kind and compassionate to my neighbor, that I did not judge, and, since I am not sinless myself, that I cast no stones at others.

    2. Actually, the concept of marriage predates both Judaism and Christianity and it started as a means of making alliances, gaining capital, confirming bloodlines and easing the transfer of property. It was a contractual arrangement, a civil arrangement long before it became a religious sacrament. I’m a devout Christian, by the way.

    3. The fact that she published your comment is to her credit. I too am deeply religious, though I am an observant Jewish man. While I agree with you to a certain extent, it’s not your place to judge, that responsibility is for one greater than either of us.

    4. I’m not a Christian. A justice of the peace married my spouse and I. According to the United States of America, we are married. There was no religious content or religious words spoken.

      My Buddhist friends did not get married in a temple or a church. They were married on the beach. Not by a pastor, but by an official. It was non-religious. They are married. Officially.

      Non-religious marriages occur every single day. Multiple times a day.

      I live in a nation that offers religious freedom. This also means freedom FROM religion. I’m sorry if that offends you. Your Christian marriages do not offend me.

      Remember this: every time you speak out against same sex marriage because it’s not “Godly,” then you are–by default–speaking out against the millions of marriages that are non-religious.

      Being on the wrong side of history is unpleasant. People tend to entrench in backwards thinking because they simply don’t want to understand where the world is going. Just know that people would be glad to clarify the laws of our nation if you need it. Otherwise, you’re free to marry the person you wish. In a church. I’m glad you have that right.

      Everyone should.

  4. Well said. I learned something a long time ago…Freedom of Speech means permitting speech that you disagree with because to silence even 1 voice, no matter how egregious that voice is, is to support evil. I stopped reading Hugo winners some tima ago as they all seemed to be written from a particular, politically correct view point…and that turned me off. I’ll take a look at your writing, not because I agree with everything you wrote, but because I’ll give just about any author a chance. If I like it, I’ll buy more, if not, well, it won’t be because I didn’t try.

    Well said…

  5. James you might want to review your history, and not the revisionist history that religion has been putting out for the last 20 or 20 years.

    Traditional Marriage …. Sigh.

  6. Thanks you.
    I have not read any of your works and has already been said, that will change.

    A new fan.

  7. You rock, Kary. I honestly had no idea what all this puppy nonsense is and looked things up online. Seems confusing to me. But in order to get past this stuff, bridges need to be built.

    What I do know is that you’re an amazing writer. And this is well deserved.

    And you are a wonderful, dear person.

    Take care of yourself! Enjoy this WEEK. (omg!) And report back to your secret FF pals. We love you.

    1. Thank you!

      From what I hear, the week is super intense, and we’ll have activities booked well into the evening. I’ll keep in touch as I can.

      General note: Since people are sensitive to secret cabals right about now, I’ll mention that this commenter is one of my Writers of the Future friends. The “secret FF pals” she’s referring to is a writers group called “Future Finalists” that consists of people who were among the eight finalists in WOTF but not among the three winners – a feat I’ve accomplished twice. πŸ˜‰ The group is closed moreso than secret, and it has nothing to do with the Hugos.

    1. Nor did you when it was your side doing it. Or are you forgetting Scalzi’s slates and the fact that Tor entries managed to get almost exactly the same number of votes through the categories?

    2. So, block voting.

      I can’t speak for block voting on the Rabid side of things because I don’t know what instructions that side gave. On the SP side, however, the list was clearly framed as a list of recommendations, as in “Here’s some stuff people liked. Read them, consider them, then vote however you want,” and not as “You are hereby instructed to vote for these, exactly these and only these.” I’ve seen comments from plenty of SP supporters who have said their ballots included Puppy stuff and non-Puppy stuff depending on what they’d read and liked. For the record, that’s how my own ballot looked; a mix of Pup and non-Pup.

      Also on the SP side, only three* of the many categories had a full list of five names / titles. Again, I can only speak for the SPs because I have no knowledge of what happened on the RP side of things.
      *SP Short Story initially had five, but Megan Grey’s story was removed once it was thought to be ineligible

      In my opinion, the lock up of the ballot was the result of two overlapping lists, and looking at the numbers, the Rabids outnumber the Sads (as evidenced by Rabid titles pushing Puppy titles off the final ballot in places where the lists diverged). To my knowledge, nobody on the SP side knew that Vox was going to run his own list. I certainly didn’t, nor did anyone I’ve spoken to who ended up on both. I was not contacted about the Rabid list, and I don’t think any of us were.

      From what I’ve heard, nobody from the SPs expected to be anywhere near as successful as they were. They expected to be about as successful as last year, maybe a little better, which would have meant one or two names in some, but not all, of the categories fielded. (See also: Rabid outnumbering Sad. I think the Sads underestimated the Rabid effect.) In short, the lockup was an unanticipated, unforeseen accident. This has been borne out by posts from both Brad and Larry saying the same things, namely that they had no clue they’d be so successful, and that no, they didn’t coordinate with Vox for the lock up. Heck, Brad even apologized for it. (“We’re sorry to be causing a ruckus that got bigger than expected.” emphasis added)

      So, how do I feel about it after the fact? Distinctly uncomfortable. The ballot shouldn’t be locked up like that. Locking up the ballot, even by accident, runs counter to the SP’s stated goal of broadening the types of works that get nominated. A lock up is, by definition, the opposite of broadening. Me, personally, I’m accepting Brad and Larry’s assertions that the lock up was not planned at face value. I plan to express my opinion that next year’s list should include either fewer names, say 2 or 3, or more names, say 6 or more. Also, depending on how it’s worded, the 4 noms for 6 spots on the ballot also sounds like a good idea – with the caveat that wiser heads than mine (meaning the WSFS folks) will have to think that through to ensure that there aren’t any unintended consequences.

      Apologies for taking so long to respond. WOTF, then catching up on everything afterward, has been all-consuming.

      1. As to the RP statement of intent, “Vox Day” states , “These are my recommendations for the 2015 nominations and I encourage those who value my opinion on matters related to science fiction and fantasy TO NOMINATE THEM PRECISELY AS THEY ARE.” (emphasis mine) Not, “Read these and, if you like them, nominate them” or “These are recommendations only, nominate what you want”, but If you agree with my opinions on SF & F, nominate these verbatim.

        He also refers to blowing up the Hugos at the bottom of the list.

        I don’t know if that will translate as a clickable link. My apologies if it doesn’t.

        It appears that “Mr. Day’s” motives are just a shade impure.

        1. One slight correction to the above. Mr. “Day” wrote, “They are my recommendations…” rather than “These are my recommendations…”. My apologies for the mistake.

  8. Hey, folks,

    I’ve got a ham to cook, bags to pack, manuscripts to deliver and Guilder to frame for it. I’m swamped.

    I’m approving comments as I can, but any responses will be slow and hit or miss.



  9. Very well and eloquently put, Kary. I have no dog in the fight (no puppy pun intended), but I absolutely agree with your balanced and fair sentiments above. Congratulations and best of luck on your Hugo nom.

  10. Very well stated. Now how many people will actually read the nominees before deciding how to vote? I am disturbed by those who say they’ll vote against anybody who was on the Sad Puppies slate. I’m just as disturbed by those who will vote against Ancillary Sword just because Ann Leckie’s pronouns are a bit wierd and she’s liked by the “politically correct” crowd.

    Read the nominated works. Vote “No award” if the work isn’t good enough. Don’t blacklist a work just because somebody you don’t like happens to have promoted it.

    Now to go find a copy of Ms. English’s nominated short story.

  11. You are my favorite person on the internet today <3 That really made me feel happy and inspired. I look forward to reading all the Hugo nominated works πŸ™‚

  12. Very well said. It precisely this attitude that speaks to me. I do know yet know your writing, but I shall remedy that. And as you have said, it is to my taste, I shall avail myself of more. Thank ye, Milady. Peace, Long life and best of wishes.

  13. Well said, Kary. I’ve hated the vitriol that has come from all this. What has heartened me are those who have discovered that they can vote on the Hugos and appreciate having the chance to do just that. You are right about baby steps, but those steps have to be taken imo.

  14. When people are discussing John C Wright’s six nominations, I have to point out that many of those who are complaining about this were perfectly all right with Seanan McGuire having five nominations.

    Nice to see you talking about this, Kary.

  15. Kary – Well said! I’m looking forward to my voters packet to read your story (I haven’t yet, so couldn’t nominate it – I hope you understand). But my understanding is the proceeds of my membership go to WorldCon and not to you. How can I buy something of yours that supports you directly? I find I quite like to support artists and authors who are reasonable and respectful…and you ma’am are clearly both!

  16. Moderator comment: As I’ve said on another post, just as I do not wish to be the ball, nor do I wish to have the battle fought in my living room.

    Those who wish to argue may do it elsewhere.

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