I wish I could trust you and I hate what we’ve become. 14

File 770 posted the Sad Puppies list (slate? what? We’ll get in to that in a moment) last night, and here. My knee jerk reaction:

I’m not proud that this is my initial reaction. But I’ve got 3 years of good reasons to feel really gun shy on this. It’s not like we all came together after Sasquan and hugged it out. There was nasty, horrible shit raining down long after the convention had been laid to rest.

Is this a slate? Several of the categories have more than five possible choices. Does that make it a rather truncated long list instead? From File 770, it sounds like this was recommendations-based, spreadsheet included. Does that make its existence no longer a political jab? What does this do to writers who said they categorically do not want to be on a slate, ever, ever, ever? Do they ask to be removed? What about writers who just want nothing to do with any of this, slate or no?

I know for a fact that at least two of the people on that list weren’t asked if they were okay being included. I would not be shocked if most/all of the other unexpected names (Alyssa, Nnedi, Ann, etc) are in the same boat. Not cool.

But it’s just a recommended list. But it’s got the “Sad Puppy” name all over it and all that goddamn baggage.

Because this is the thing. After three years of slates and shouting and people being intensely shitty, after the porous barrier between sad and rabid and the fecal stench known as Beale that clings to everything, I cannot fucking trust any of this.

So is it a recommended reading list, innocently offered? Or is it a Trojan Horse, intending to get people to maybe think hey, we don’t really need to ratify those WSFS amendments everyone voted on last year when we were almost universally pissed off about a slate rolling the Hugos. See, it’s not so bad. Let it go. And then next year it starts all over again because nothing’s been fixed.

Or is it a way to try to fuck over a lot of writers who don’t want anything to do with this, because suddenly they’re on the damn list, and no one knows if it’s a slate or not, but there’s the knee jerk feeling of if these assholes want a thing, I don’t.

Or is it a way to score some cheap points because if these writers end up on the final ballot and win (or score over No Award), look at all these SJW hypocrites, see they’re okay with slates as long as it’s people they like. That’s certainly consistent the Wile E. Coyote-style Sooper Genius I’m Totally Playing Six Dimensional Chess nonsense we perennially get told is really going on, you know, where people get roundly slapped down by the community and then loudly proclaim that it’s what they wanted all along. (PS: You’re transparent. We know it isn’t.)

And is the very existence of this post (and ones like it) going to be used to add to the carefully curated sense of grievance that’s been fueling this entire stupid, stupid fight?

This makes me so angry, because I’m already seeing people getting dragged into this bubbling cesspool of bullshit and paranoia. And I hate thinking like this. I hate it. I want to believe the best in people. I want to believe in good intentions, and change, and moving on from bad times.

But I’m also not a fucking idiot, and I can remember further back than yesterday. I remember the last three years that led to me fucking dreading the Hugos this year because I knew the drama would be inevitable. I remember the incredibly fucked up (and at times racist, misogynistic, homophobic) things that have been said about friends of mine and writers I deeply respect. And I remember the transphobic shit that got spattered on Sasquan right next to the puppy ribbons very clearly.

I’d like to believe the best of you, Sad Puppies. But I can’t. Give it a few years of people not treating the fucking Hugo awards like some Game of Thrones-lite eliminationist slap fight and maybe I’ll be able to. (Though the forgive and forget threshold of others is certainly not dictated by my comfort level.) But this year I’m paranoid, and I’m mad, and you’ve fucking earned it.

Additional: Please read Catherynne M Valente’s post on the topic. Cora Buhlert has much more measured commentary than mine as well, and I totally agree with her commentary about branding.

14 thoughts on “I wish I could trust you and I hate what we’ve become.

  1. Reply Laura Resnick Mar 18,2016 15:31

    As far as anyone seems to know, it’s definite that no one was asked if they were willing to be on the SP4 “this is not a slate.” Which is not surprising. SP4 specifically said months ago they would not be asking anyone before putting their names on their “it’s not a slate.”

    If I recall correctly, they also indicated at some point in the past that they also will not agree to remove anyone’s name from it, if/when asked to do so. (I may be mistaken. I recall seeing a statement by Theodore Beale that he would be unwilling to remove names from the Rabid slate when asked to do so, but my memory of what SP4 said about that is unclear.)

    Obviously, some of the people on the SP4 “this is not a slate” are Puppies or Puppy friends/supporters, based on their behavior over the past year or so. Just as obviously, there are also people on the “this is not a slate” who are opposed to Puppying and want nothing to do with this.There might also be a few people on there who don’t know who or what the Puppies are and have never heard of any of this (and, in that case, I’m glad that such people have escaped the underwater caves in which they were apparently imprisoned).

    In any case, I don’t see how “this is not a slate” could be a recommended reading FOR THE HUGO NOMINATIONS, since nominations close in 2 weeks. On that basis, as a set of recommendations, it bears resemblance to (yes! I’m SAYING it!) a voting slate.

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  3. Reply Yamamanama Mar 19,2016 07:36

    Agreed: the Sad Puppies are toxic and can only hurt their nominees.

  4. Reply airboy Mar 19,2016 11:17

    I pity you.

    SP4 was run completely in the open. You could recommend books, or not.

    It just might be that many people think that a “fan award” ought to have a lot more actual fans nominating.

    SP4 was run exactly the way it was claimed to when it was announced.

    I hope you get over your anger and resume enjoy SF either as a profession or a hobby.

    • Reply Rachael Mar 19,2016 11:30

      Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to come to my blog and be condescending.

      The puppies have spent three years establishing a very clear brand, and that’s not something that can be reversed overnight. I’m all for people changing and growing, but I also don’t think it’s unreasonable that after three years of basically getting punched in the face, I find it hard to trust “it’s different this time, baby, we’re not going to hit you anymore.”

    • Reply Paul Weimer Mar 19,2016 15:52

      And Beale’s Rabid Puppy slate (wait, he says its not a slate, which means its not in his mind even though it completely is) seems to be just his own creation. I don’t think the Hugo award should be “The Theodore Beale wants this to be nominated” award.

  5. Reply George Mar 19,2016 14:58

    “I’m all for people changing and growing, but I also don’t think it’s unreasonable that after three years of basically getting punched in the face, I find it hard to trust “it’s different this time, baby, we’re not going to hit you anymore.””

    That’s truly hilarious. Are you really that deaf, dumb, and blind? After three years of the various puppies being called racists, misogynists, ad nauseum, without a shred of evidence, you’re going to act like the injured party? Science fiction and fantasy exists for us all, not just those of you who seemingly think that it’s some sort of exclusive club.

    And go right ahead and cite Vox Day. He’s the monster you all help create and you all deserve whatever he does to you.

    • Reply Rachael Mar 19,2016 15:46

      Translation: “It’s way worse to be called racist than to say racist things!” and “You created Vox Day just like it’s totally Bernie Sanders’s fault that Donald Trump exists!”

      Thanks for playing.

  6. Reply George Mar 20,2016 14:31

    Translation of the Translation:

    I’m not going to deal with anything you’ve said, so I’ll just misstate it in the laziest way possible.

    The essential point remains: science fiction isn’t yours. It isn’t mine. It belongs to everyone, and you folks trying to keep it to yourselves is an effort that is doomed to fail. The only real question at this point is “are you willing to destroy the Hugos in order to keep them out of the hands of those you deem Other?” You can go on all you want about Slate/Notslate, but that’s the bottom-line issue.

    And thank you for playing as well.

    • Reply Rachael Mar 20,2016 14:36

      And you’re sure having a lot of fun arguing with that straw man of my position. Please point out in my post where I said science fiction was mine exclusively? (Speaking here as the collective “mine” presumably.) You can’t. Because I never have.

  7. Reply gregm91436 Mar 22,2016 01:47

    The inclusion of non-Puppy items (like Ms. Wong and N.K. Jemisin’s “The Fifth Season”) is best explained by non-Puppy voters who wanted to recommend awesome, non-Puppy fiction but do so politely. You know, 75% genuine “this is awesome,” 25% “yeah, let’s see how open you guys [Sp4] -really- are.”

    And then, because of how few total SP4 recommenders there actually were, some of us ended up a little surprised at the inclusion of picks on the list.

    it could be that SP4 was playing seventy-dimensional chess, but it could also be that there were so few Puppies who actually wanted to rec sf&f things (as opposed to screaming about politics) that the non-Puppies, who like doing that sort of anyway, had some sway…

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