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Posts Tagged ‘larry correia’

Once upon a time, an English professor… No, let me start again. Once upon a time, a geology professor that someone had put in charge of an English class on science fiction (probably because he was the only faculty member who would admit to reading the stuff), lectured that you knew Robert Heinlein was a libertarian because of his book, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (which had been assigned in class). Since MHM was libertarian in outlook (and is, in fact, considered a classic in that field, to my understanding), Heinlein must perforce have been a libertarian himself. This view also found expression in the final exam.

A certain student, naive in his outlook and seeking to better his education by exercising free will (ironically, a libertarian ideal), argued that this was, in literary and learned terms, BS. You can’t judge an author by his work. He supported his thesis by offering two other Heinlein works, The Puppet Masters and Starship Troopers, which are by no means libertarian. Both, in fact, feature governments that are willing to do whatever it takes to defend themselves, personal choices taking a back seat.

As you may have predicted if you have any education at all, the student lost that argument. And as you will already have deduced, that student was me. I consider that class to have been the second-worst adventure of my university career, right behind the career-ending catastrophe that was calculus. (See how I used alliteration there? It just proves I should have been an English major all along.)

Unlike calculus, however, my poor showing on that final exam was not my fault. You cannot judge an author from his work. There’s been a lot of controversy lately about authors being banned, or disinvited, from conventions. In some cases it has been based on prior actions, in others on “personal views” which the convention apparently did not want to promote/entertain/risk. How you choose guests is your business, and you may base that decision on the author himself, or on his work. If either does not fit your philosophy of your con, then don’t invite that author. But please don’t make the mistake of characterizing an author on the basis of his work, whether you’re planning a convention or simply reading books. It’s certainly true that many books are a mirror of their creators, but it isn’t a direct correlation. Authors can take completely opposing views in different books if that’s what it takes to tell those stories.

After all, a lot of famous authors got their start by writing porn. If you meet one at a con, ask him if those books are an accurate reflection of his sex life. Go ahead; I’m sure the answer will tell you a lot about that author as a person.

#SFWApro

 

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Codes of conduct are all the rage at conventions now–in more than one sense of the word. Not only are more conventions adopting them–and not by choice, but by the necessity of not being seen to be insensitive to various pressing issues–but they are also the cause of rage from various corners.

We’ve always had rules for conventions. Even back in the Stone Age, when I chaired a con, we had rules (such as no guns). But we didn’t have a code as such; our rules were simple: Aside from the “no guns” rule, you had to buy a membership to participate. That was pretty much it. I don’t mean to romanticize “the good old days,” but things are sure different now.

And they are evolving. Worldcon banned one person because he wrote about his plans upon attending, which were ostensibly considered threatening or potentially bothersome to others.* Now, another convention has announced that it is modifying its own code of conduct to include actions taken by potential members outside of the convention itself; in other words, you may be pre-banned for your behavior utterly unconnected to the convention you wish to attend.

How to feel about this? On the one hand, we all want to think that our cons are going to be fun; we don’t want to have to worry that some jerk is going to hijack the weekend for his own asocial purposes. On the other hand, should going to a con involve a virtual job interview? I don’t know of any con that has the volunteer mojo to check every attendees’ (applicants’) social media presence, but with technology improving, how long will it be? And while each concom certainly has the right to determine who it wants to have at its event (usually a real-time decision), what standards will each use? (See an analysis of the application of codes of conduct at Australian conventions here.)

For fans, conventions can be a highlight of their social life. For pros, conventions can be a marketing/networking/sales opportunity, particularly for newer authors who need the exposure. No question that to anyone, being denied entrance is damaging on some level.

The phrase “slippery slope” is overused, but it is applicable to many situations. Add to that the fact that SF fandom loves a controversy like ants love ice cream. Regardless of the fairness of the policy or its application, this is going to create a hurricane of disputation, and if it continues, it’s only going to grow over time. Look for more pros to be banned, and then fans. It starts with political viewpoints, but it will get uglier. The “race card” will be played (fairly or not), sooner rather than later. Today’s fissures today will be tomorrow’s chasms.

I hope that as I grow in stature as a writer, I will not have to maintain two lists: the cons which I would like to attend, and the cons at which I will be welcome. But we don’t always get what we hope for.

ETA: Origins gaming convention has announced the rescission of author Larry Correia’s invitation to be a guest of honor, for having “personal views that are specifically unaligned with the philosophy of our show and the organization.” Although this does not appear to be a code of conduct issue, I fear it is the shape of things to come.

 

*As this matter is in the process of being litigated, I specifically disavow any knowledge as to what any of the parties was thinking/thinking of doing. I’m just speculating here.

#SFWApro

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Note: This is about the Sad Puppies/Hugo flap, but I hope it’s more than that. You can skip it if you want to.

I am what some call a Social Justice Warrior (“SJW”). Not that I crusade for liberal causes; other than voting and contributing to a few, I don’t get much involved. But the Sad Puppies and their allies would call me an SJW for that alone, or because I believe awards should go to stories that are more than just popular, or for a hundred other reasons. Fine. Call me what you want. It just shows how short-sighted such labels are, because in the end, I read the same stuff you do.

The Puppies put Jim Butcher on the Hugo ballot. I love Jim Butcher’s books. Larry Correia would have been on the ballot if he hadn’t taken himself off. I enjoy his books a lot. Most of the other Puppy offerings I am unfamiliar with, but my point is made. They want books that have spaceships on the cover to be about space exploration and high heroics. Well, guess what? So do I. You want proof? Read “The Invisible City.” It’s about a guy who ends up in a (mostly) invisible city. Truth in advertising. End of plug.

But I also believe that the influx of new authors who are not white males is a good thing. The only thing wrong with saying, “F/SF is a wide field with room for all kinds of authors and stories,” is that it implies we’re still writing and reading in a ghetto. We should be saying, “Literature is a wide field with room for all kinds of authors and stories.” Instead of fighting amongst ourselves, why aren’t we fighting to break out, into the “Fiction” section of Barnes & Noble, instead of being stuck off to the side like we’re not good enough?

The problem with the “Puppy” point of view (and those fighting so hard to preserve the status quo) is that we are fighting over the last doughnut in the apartment when we live over a bakery. The Hugos are voted on by a few thousand people at best. There are billions of readers out there, most of whom couldn’t name an SF book that hadn’t been made into a movie if you offered them a suitcase full of cash.

Given the undeniably wide spectrum of SF and fantasy we write, why get into a brawl over limited resources when there’s a world out there for the taking? I mean, c’mon, if anybody knows how to conquer a planet, it’s us.

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Note: This is another post dedicated to the Hugo Awards. If you aren’t interested, we will return to our regular programming eventually. I promise.

I freely admit that I’m spending more time on this whole Sad Puppies/Hugogate phenomenon than is perhaps healthy. (If you’re just coming into this discussion, just google “Sad Puppies 2015.” It’s gotten too big to encapsulate in any one reference.) In my own defense, however, this controversy is not going away any time soon, and by “soon” I mean “the next few years.” So I might as well be up on it, and for that reason I have been trying to amass as many viewpoints as possible. And because of that, I have made the startling discovery that both sides actually have something in common:

They’re both wrong.

Not about everything, of course. Much of what they say is a matter of taste and/or opinion, which cannot be wrong. That’s why taste and opinion are not fact. But they are wrong on the facts–sometimes. Maybe if they weren’t, some kind of meaningful discussion could actually occur (although I doubt it). I’d like to take this opportunity to show how both sides get some things wrong. I’ll start with the Sad Puppies, because they ignited the current contretemps.* I will use a recent posting by Larry Correia as my template.

Mr. Correia’s posting is too long to cover in its entirety, and much of it, as I said earlier, is opinion, so I’ll only speak to certain sections.

Sad Puppies is all about getting good books recognized. That’s what you say and I’m sure you believe it. But Sad Puppies was created expressly as a right-wing political experiment, and two years of evolution is not going to erase people’s memories. You can’t expect it will.

SP3 won big because the fannish cabal was mean to us after last year’s SP selections lost. No, it was because you mobilized your troops and the other side didn’t.

We’ve got nothing against fans. We’re fans too. Yes, I’m sure the CHORFs would agree.

We’re doing this in defense of freedom of artistic expression. This has nothing to do with artistic expression and everything to do with who gets awards. Artistic expression is not at risk. Neither is freedom.

Don’t blame Vox Day on us. True, he was a jerk before Sad Puppies. True, he’s no longer connected with SP. But he started with you, and you knew damned well who and what he was. In fact, you recommended works on his slate. Now Frankenstein’s Creature is loose (“Rabid Puppies” is no coincidence) and you can’t say you don’t share the blame.

As for the left side of the aisle…

For its (many) sins, the only proper response to the Sad Puppies slate is complete rejection. Although it is only one fact, it is as wrong as all of the facts listed above collectively.

First, not everyone on the Sad Puppies slate was consulted, or knew what was going on when they found out they were included. You’re punishing the innocent with the “guilty.” Isn’t it conservatives who supposedly shoot first and ask questions later?

Second, some people on the slate choose to remain there not because they agree with the SPs politics, but because they’ve been nominated for a Hugo. Had I been asked to be put on the slate, I don’t know that I would not have agreed, just for the publicity. We authors are in it to sell books, and “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

Third, voting “No Award” before every category is only going to give the SPs ammunition. They’ll say, “They’d rather destroy the Hugos than let us win,” and they will, sadly, be right. You don’t trim a tree by chopping it down.

So okay, all of you are wrong about something. Can you climb down from your fortified towers, wave a white flag, and talk? If you are all, as you say, only interested in finding the best stories to honor, then you actually have a lot in common.

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Note: Usually when I delve into matters of f/sf fandom, I try to make a point that is equally applicable to the wider world. This is not one of those posts. If you do not care about the Hugo Awards, you might as well skip this one and go get yourself a cup of coffee. So the nominations are in and, as predicted, the Puppies (Sad and Rabid) have left their mark on the carpet. Equally predictably, anti-Puppies are already rushing about looking for a clean towel and a spray bottle to clean up the mess. So did the Puppies win? Well…not yet. Although the majority of nominees are Puppy-endorsed, there are those who aren’t. Those nominees (let’s call them Soft Kitties) might win, preserving their side’s honor for another year. (Although I should point out that, in most cases, being one side’s choice does not mean that you support that side–or any side. As in any war, some volunteered and some were drafted. Unfortunately, there are casualties from both classes.) And Hugo ballots have the “No Award” option, which will see unprecedented use this year. Whether No Award will rank first in any category remains to be seen, but it would, again, be seen as a blow against Puppies. But let’s say the Puppies carry some awards (or even all of them). Can they say then that they won? Of course they can, but I fear it would be a Pyrrhic victory. Let’s face it: Everybody who votes this year is going to know what’s going on. The Puppies put forth a slate (perfectly legal), and pushed it hard (again legal, if not quite kosher). No matter who wins, this year’s ballot results will always have a metaphorical asterisk attached. The winners will always be under a cloud. In fact, I will not be surprised if some of them are booed at the awards ceremony. And that leads us to the next reality: As of now, the Hugos are a war zone. Yes, the Puppies command a large following, mostly through Larry Correia’s fan base, but the Soft Kitties are not exactly unknown. Scalzi is a best-seller, and while he probably won’t sound the clarion call, his fans are capable of assembling a mob all on their own.* In fact, the whole purported purpose behind Sad Puppies was that the “insiders” controlled the Hugos, which would mean that there is already an organized cabal willing and able to put its own stamp on the awards. And now that syndicate is challenged. I foresee next year’s awards as a battle between two or more slates. Sad Puppies 4 v. Soft Kitties v. Blue Meanies? Most f/sf fans, however, will stand by and ignore/watch with horrified awe the train wreck that the Hugos will have become. Very soon, the awards will cease to have any marketing or promotional or even personal value, because it the award will no longer even pretend to honor literary excellence, but merely which side can buy the most votes by assembling the most voters. This year it was the Sad Puppies who bought the most votes. Next year it may be the Soft Kitties. The year after that–the year after that it won’t matter because fandom will be divided into armed camps that don’t speak, don’t read the same books, and refuse to attend the same conventions. Which will make the Puppies and the Kitties very sad. *To my knowledge, none of the real heavyweights in the genre have signed on to either side, because the Hugos just aren’t on their radar. If Stephen King decided to rally his fans to the cause, or George RR Martin, it wouldn’t matter what any Puppy or Kitty did.

ETA: And now Mr. Martin is weighing in, although not in the sense that I facetiously suggested.

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