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Posts Tagged ‘rabid puppies’

The Rabid Puppies have announced their 2017 agenda, and the Sads probably will soon if they haven’t already (I’m not paying that much attention), both dissing any modern, progressive SF, and the “Blue” side is pontificating about how the “Red” side is stuck in the 50s, and it’s pretty much the usual for what passes as society these days. And while, as I say, I haven’t been paying a lot of attention, it’s kind of hard to ignore completely if you spend any time at all on the net. So despite myself, I’ve come to a conclusion.

It’s not just the Puppies who need to be swatted on the nose with a newspaper, it’s all of you.

I am not taking sides here; this playground needs a teacher. If you kids can’t learn to sit together quietly and leave each other alone, the entire class is staying after school, soccer practice be damned.

Right-wing writers and fans–science fiction is growing up. Get over it. There’s plenty of room left for what you want to read; I know for a fact that you’ve gone out and started your own magazines and a publishing house (not to mention Baen). Good for you. Now stop complaining that the liberals are a bunch of lily-livered weaklings on the one hand, and that they’re bullying you on the other.*

Left-wing writers and fans–nobody ever said growing up meant you had to forget what it was like to be a kid. If you did, you wouldn’t read science fiction. Yeah, I know it’s not the juvenile lit all your friends think it is, but they do think that, and you have to live with the stigma. So stop acting so smug. And for heaven’s sake, when you take on the fans on the other side of the aisle, quit talking like you have a Master’s in literary criticism! (Even if you do–especially if you do.) Nobody understands you except other Ph.D. candidates,** and you’ll never get your point across if you’re condescending.

Which brings me to my point: Nobody is communicating. A writer friend told me long ago that “talking to somebody isn’t communication. Communication requires two people to talk to each other.” That doesn’t mean shouting back and forth, that isn’t communication. It requires speaking and listening.

If this is too hard for you, then be quiet. That’s all, just be quiet. Go about your lives and don’t bother anyone else. We all have our own problems, honest. Nobody needs to go out and find more.

And with all that time you’re not arguing, you could do something constructive, like lobby for the space program. There are a lot of other fans doing that, and you know what? Not all of them like the same books you do. But now you’ll have something you can communicate about.

 

*And leave the Hugos alone! You spend almost as much time decrying their relevance as you do trying to run them.

**I have a degree in English and I don’t understand what you’re saying half the time.

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[The following was written by a friend of mine, a freshman in college. My initial thought (after “this is good; people need to see this”) was to recommend replacing the word “jazz” with “science fiction” because of the subject’s prominence in our field. Upon reflection, however, I believe that the word “jazz” could be replaced by the profession or fandom of your choice, and remain unfortunately relevant. This is reprinted by permission; the author’s name is withheld.]

 

To the jazz community (especially male jazz musicians please read on):

A couple weeks ago I had the privilege of talking to a woman, around 50-60, who was a jazz vocalist. During the conversation, she brought up the difficulties of being a woman in the jazz community, especially an instrumentalist, and asked me if anything had changed since she had been in school. Without any hesitation I told her it had not.

As a tenor saxophonist in middle school and high school jazz bands, I have been verbally, emotionally, and sexually harassed. Some of the things said to me were so disgusting that I, as a sheltered 15-year-old, could not even comprehend. But, as with any systemic issue, this is not really about me.

Throughout every summer camp or high school group, every woman I have met in the jazz community has felt at best excluded and at worst terribly harassed. Of the 6 women I have played in high school with, all were good if not great musicians. However, jazz culture pressures instrumentalists to be the absolute best, and the more men feel that pressure, or fear that a woman might usurp them in skill, the more men harass women in an attempt to push them out of the competition. Women in the jazz community are not seen as equal competitors, but rather threats to the toxic fragile masculinity of men.

And the harassment works. I told myself after my senior year of high school I would never play in a jazz band again. I had lost all motivation to practice years before. The only way for my emotional health to survive jazz band was to give up and not care. I saw other women find similar paths: letting men know that you are not good is met with laughter, asking for help is met with condescending smiles. Trying your best is met with anger and misogyny. In a school setting, I learned that my gender was not welcome, that giving up is healthier, that improving is futile.

Misogyny in jazz does not only exist in my high school, or in the summer music camps I attended. Misogyny, as well as racism, in jazz is historically rooted. Watch movies like The Girls in the Band, a documentary about the struggles of women from 1930s jazz bands to the present. Look no further than Whiplash, where a white man tells the only girl in a band in the entire movie she is there only because she is cute and then kicks her out after one bad note. Even try to think of the names of three female jazz instrumentalists.

The competitiveness within the jazz community cannot be conducive to learning or creativity if it violently attacks 51% of the population. Toxic masculinity and its consequential harassment must be eradicated. If you are a male jazz musician, I recommend you keep these things in mind:

1. Women deserve respect the moment they are born. Men have proven that women will never be good enough to earn their respect. Whether they are new or veterans, whether they are terrible musicians or great, all women deserve your respect.

2. Pushing people out of the jazz community will not make jazz better. If you love jazz music, you will encourage women to join and encourage them to practice and encourage them to be great and let them be great. Misogyny cannot be tolerated in any society that wants to grow and neither can fostering this toxic competitive spirit.

3. Women owe you nothing. Not when you think you need a reason to respect them. Not if you don’t harass them. Not when you apologize for harassing them. Not when you ask for forgiveness.

Finally, to the women who have ever played in jazz bands, whether you quit or you still play: I admire you infinitely. You are stronger than the men who harassed you. You are more talented than they led you on to believe. You are incredible and wonderful and I wish you the best in whatever you are currently accomplishing.

 

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It is a comment upon current circumstances when I say that my limited participation in Hugo voting this year honestly does not proscribe my ability to air my feelings on the proceedings. In full disclosure, I only voted in one category because I lacked the time to survey the field in more depth, and in fact, I gave that one No Award. Oddly enough, it was not one of the categories pre-empted by Puppies of any stripe.

Nevertheless, the entire process is worthy of discussion. As was the case last year, the various Puppies tried to game the system, but this year voters were onto them and they had markedly less presence on the final ballot. Needless to say, that they had any effect at all disproportionate to their numbers was unfortunate. Not only does the presence of any kind of slate demean the voting, but it actively bars others’ choices from appearing. You can proclaim your candidates’ merits all you like, but if you have to resort to underhanded methods to gain their nomination (even if it isn’t technically cheating), then you forfeit the opportunity to persuade anyone to agree with you because you have eliminated free choice. In the end, you are limiting these works’ acceptance (and sales) because no one wants anything that’s being forced down their throats. Ask any child with a cold.

Now Mr. Beale, who’s behind all of this, would have you believe that “everything is going according to plan”–just like every supervillain cackles two seconds before Captain Justice bursts through the skylight and brings his little foray into world domination to a halt. As will happen here. Voting slates will never be completely erased, but their influence will wane to the point where no one will want to pay for a Worldcon membership simply in order to exercise what little destructive power they have left.

The question, of course, is why do this at all? What do they get from wantonly disrupting someone else’s fun? I have no answer, unless it’s because they lack the imagination to make up their own.

In the end, it doesn’t matter. This, too, will pass. Whether the Hugos themselves matter, that’s another discussion–one that perhaps we will have when the current crisis abates. I look forward to it.

 

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Warning: This concerns the recurring fiasco of who/what/how/why we vote for the Hugo Awards. (At this point I’m not even sure exactly why people are fighting over it.) If you don’t care about the Hugos, then (a) good for you, and (b) see you next time. But if you do care, or if you are honestly confused, then perhaps the following will prove of some benefit.

Five Reasons Why the Hugo Kerfuffle is Like the Presidential Election.

1) It’s come down to people calling each other names. (Okay, the Hugo fight started that way.) Hugo partisans have called each other neo-Nazis, Social Justice Warriors, homophobes, liberals, and other terms I won’t repeat here. Even spouses have come in for insult (on both sides). In the election debates, people call each other neo-Nazis, closet liberals, RINOs, and small-handed. Even spouses have come in for insult (on both sides).

2) The Hugos are haunted by the specter of an outsider who has expressed his desire to burn the entire program to the ground. The election is haunted by the specter of at least one candidate who threatens by his very presence to burn his party’s entire program to the ground.

3) The Sad Puppies brag that they brought thousands of new voters to the Hugos last year. Donald Trump brags that he has brought millions of new voters to his party. Whether either of their successes proves long-term remains to be seen.

4) Last year, the “No Award” avalanche lead to threats that many will boycott the awards this year. This year, the idea that certain candidates may not receive their parties’ respective nominations have lead to threats that voters will boycott the general election.

5) The Hugo controversy has pitted fandom against itself, creating fissures and scars that may require decades to heal, if ever. The election controversy is splitting the American public against itself, revealing fissures and scars that have not healed in centuries, and may never do so.

6) Bonus! Both the Hugo controversy and the election are being conducted in the most childish, self-destructive, and futile manner possible. People screaming epithets at each other has never solved an issue. It only leads to violence, which leads to more violence, which leads to five years of bloodshed from Fort Sumter to Appomattox.

I have a solution. It’s very simple: Calm down. Use your indoor voices. Behave like adults. Set an example for your children that your parents would be proud of.

Because if you don’t, I’m going to have to start sending people to bed without supper. And nobody wants that.

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It’s often said that “Life imitates art.” But as I posited in my last post, that doesn’t normally happen in SF. And yet, here we are: We have a presidential campaign that imitates a Hugo campaign.

I’m speaking, of course, of the Donald Trump campaign v. the Rabid Puppies.* Lately (and not-so-lately) it has become the fashion in certain quarters to wonder if the Donald is trying to lose the nomination.** I mean, the things he says…about women, immigrants, war heroes… Is there a non-white male group he hasn’t tried to alienate?

And then there are the Rabid Puppies. Now these guys I’m sure are in it for the laughs. It’s another example of someone trying to tick everyone else off, and I can’t see that it’s serious. It’s just a way to “stick it to the Man” (assuming in this case there is a “Man”) and see how much fun can be had. It’s “Bart Simpson Goes to Worldcon.”

The surprising thing in both instances is how well it’s worked. Last year the RPs pretty much swept the Hugo nominations, to everyone’s surprise, which lead to a conclusion that no one is proud of. This year Trump has lead the Republican field for months, and if he gets the nomination, I don’t think the results will make a lot of people happy.

But maybe this is all to the good. Systems that lie in place unchallenged for too long become complacent; people adjust to the status quo, never noticing that maintaining the status quo, over the long term, is called “stagnation.” So once in a while you have to stir things up. People don’t like it when their comfortable status quo is stirred up, particularly those who have made it to the top of the heap. (This doesn’t mean that the stirrers are necessarily right, merely necessary.)

Is it painful? Yes. Is it scary? Yes. Is it necessary? Unfortunately, yes. And even more than that, it’s inevitable. But the result is that people realize that the system does not operate on auto-pilot, that it needs attention, just like in all those stories about generation starships that encounter problems a hundred years later and somebody has to exceed himself to fix them. We haven’t reached that point; we only have to rouse ourselves a little bit, pay a little attention, and a new, perhaps better, status quo can be achieved. It may not be quite the same, but that’s how the system works.

 

*Last year, I could have included the Sad Puppies, but they claim to have reframed their narrative and I have no reason to doubt them.

**This is not an invitation to discuss political issues. Thank you.

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There has been a lot (yes, way too much) time and energy spent the last several months on the Hugo awards, and what’s supposedly wrong with them, and the ancillary (pun intended) issues that have arisen since, like the latest nonsense about suing the Worldcon over a supposedly invalid ballot. As has been reiterated many times, and specifically (if incidentally) pointed by the latest “legal” kerfuffle, these things are really a tempest in a very small teapot. Honestly, as much as we’d all love to have one, who wins the Hugos matters to very few people. (Mostly, the people who win one, or don’t.) The same goes for whether the ballot was fairly drawn, or voted on, or if the system can be reformed.

Now, ironically, all the hoopla and hollering has not failed to engage and entertain a lot of people. Or maybe “enrage and entertain” would be a better description. (And I will be the first to admit I am among that number. Of course, my interest has been wholly academic, particularly in the latest skirmish, since I am a legal professional.) But why?

Why is it, that we, the SF community, self-charged to be the farseers, the chosen few who at least try to predict the future (however poorly), are so caught up with present-day minutiae? Come to think of it, why is the world so caught up in present-day minutiae? Obsession with movie stars, for example, is nothing new; when my great-grandmother’s closets were cleaned out years ago, we found stacks movie tabloids dating back to the 1950s. (And yes, I wish I had been allowed to save them.) But now, we have television channels devoted to this kind of thing, and we make stars out of people who’ve never been in movies. (And then we put them in movies, with predictable results.)

Sure, this is all for fun, and everybody’s entitled, but there are issues out there that we should be paying attention to: climate change, record refugee migrations, wealth distribution, a presidential election season being run by reality stars. (Somebody has probably actually predicted this somewhere along the line.) Why should we care if No Award got the Hugo for Best Short Story when right outside the auditorium record forest fires, fueled by unprecedented drought, made the air seem less like Spokane than Beijing?

And why isn’t anyone blogging about that?

I have a simple theory: It’s too big. We can’t handle this stuff. This is the sort of thing we elected those guys in Washington to solve for us. See how well that’s worked out.

But you know what? We’re Science Fiction. We think about the big issues, the future. Up until now, instead of the guys in Washington, we’ve let the guys in SFWA do the heavy lifting, so we can concentrate on nominating patterns and voting blocs. Except now the guys in SFWA are right down there with us. We’re letting a thousand ant-like problems distract us from the elephants in the room. Because it’s easier.

I’m not going to sit here at my computer and claim I have the way out. I’m not to claim that I’m any better than anyone else, that I’ve been fighting the good fight while everyone else sat at their bivouac. I don’t, and I haven’t. I’ve fed the monster of small concerns like a lot of others.

But it’s time to stop. It’s time for us in science fiction to stop squabbling about petty matters and get back to bigger things. The kind of looming apocalypses that we can imagine, because we’re not afraid to. The kind of doomsday scenarios that used to be science fiction.

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Well, that went pretty much as expected. Maybe the Sad/Rabid Puppies were right, and the Hugos are not representative of the popular taste for the past two decades, but now that the dust has settled, 6000 Hugo voters have affirmed that they will not tolerate slate nominees. The Puppy slates were slapped with a newspaper the size of the Sunday New York Times (including the classifieds). I doubt we will see any more slates, certainly not the counter-slates that would have followed a Puppy victory.

it’s just as well. Regardless of any correctness of their beliefs in matters of taste, and notwithstanding the technical legality of their methods, the Puppies would have done their winners (and did  their nominees) no favors. It is unlikely that the record voting numbers we saw this year will continue; almost certainly 2015 will stand out as a marked anomaly. This means that everyone (who cares) would have known, in a year and in 50 years, that 2015 was that year, the year that everyone mentally marks with an asterisk. The Year That the Hugos Were Gamed.

Because the Puppies complained that the same Big Name Authors campaigned and glad-handed and somehow got the votes year after year, they decided to do the BNAs did, only bigger. They gathered all of their fans and got them to buy voting memberships, created a complete slate (apparently out of whole cloth), and “suggested” how people should vote. It’s a variation on the Big Lie, but don’t tell the Puppies that. They hate the implied comparison.

They said it was okay, that it was only what everyone had been doing for years, but now it was out in the open. Yeah, well, I can think of lots of things people have been doing for years, but decency forbids them from doing them in the open (unless you want to get caught, but that’s a whole different ball of wax). And if it’s only now out in the open, how do you know it ever really went on before? Oh, it must have, because otherwise all the Puppies would have been winning all along. If only enough people were voting.

Next year they claim there will be so many voters even their slates won’t matter. So I guess not enough people voted this time? Voting was up something like 90%. Will the Puppies howl that, “Next year, it’ll be our 90%”? Will they bay about how “No Award” is Marxist/Leninist censorship?

Probably. If not that, something like it. But really, that’s how they want it. After all, if you want to be able to complain, you have to be in the doghouse.

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