AISFP 289 — Sad Puppies with Larry Correia, Brad R. Torgersen

Sad Puppies 3Larry Correia and Brad R. Torgersen join us to discuss the Sad Puppies effort. The campaign questions the notion of inclusion in genre, particularly with the Hugo Awards. In the interview, we discuss the perceived exclusion of popular fiction. We also chat about the controversial decision to include Vox Day in the original slate. Full disclosure: AISFP was included in the 2015 slate. In the coming weeks, we’ll talk with others in the genre community about the topic: We expect we’ll receive a variety of opinions and perspectives.

This is the inaugural episode for Brent and Kristi as co-hosts (we anticipate Moses will stop by from time to time, too). The podcast will continue to feature great author interviews and work hard to showcase relevant industry topics from multiple points of view. It also will evolve to reflect the changing landscape of genre storytelling.

Related, varying thoughts about Sad Puppies include:

Brad R. Torgersen “Why Sad Puppies is Going to Destroy Science Fiction

Larry Correia “Sad Puppies 3: The Ensaddening

Paul Weimer’s “Thoughts on ‘Sad Puppies 3‘”

John Scalzi’s:

 

Connect with Adventures in SciFi Publishing

Subscribe to podcast on: iTunes | Stitcher Radio (Android users) | Podcast RSS | Website RSS

Comments

  1. Larry Correia now: “I believe most of the Hugo Voters are honest people who really value the system and they treat it very seriously; I have nothing but respect for those people.”

    Larry Correia before: (http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/01/28/ending-binary-gender-in-fiction-or-how-to-murder-your-writing-career/) “If you can’t stomach the comments long enough to hear what a typical WorldCon voter sounds like, let me paraphrase: “Fantastic! I’m so sick of people actually enjoying books that are fun! Let’s shove more message fiction down their throats! My cause comes before their enjoyment! Diversity! …”

    So respecting most Worldcon Voters is a very big change of heart for him. I would have liked to hear what changed his mind.

    “It’s not about politics.” Bless their hearts; they nominated *Vox Day*. Specifically and openly for the purpose of making the liberals’ heads explode. *Because* he was a scumbag, not because he wrote a story full of excitement and explosions, adventure and exploration–it was a story about an elf making a copy of the bible, and it was rather less exciting than the description makes it sound. Of *course* it was about politics.

    The Guardian Reporter ascribed things to Larry that he hadn’t said? As a typical world con voter I can say I know *exactly* how he feels.

    I do hope you will do an interview with some non-Puppies. Allow me to specifically suggest it would be fair to let Mike Glyer respond to Larry’s accusations.

    • Hey Cat, late to the punch in the comments here but we’ve got another episode going up this week with Paul Weimer from the Skiffy and Fanty Show and SF Signal. As you pointed out, we wanted to make sure we had different viewpoints for our Hugo awards discussions, including the Sad Puppies.
      Cheers,
      Kristi

    • So respecting most Worldcon Voters is a very big change of heart for him. I would have liked to hear what changed his mind.

      Those two things aren’t identical, though. I voted in the Hugos this year, and I’m not a part of the con, and don’t intend to be.

  2. I enjoy seeing other people’s Hugo recommendations / nominations as it may make me aware of fiction I’ve missed during the year. I’m also OK with people listing their eligible works though personally don’t pay attention to those ty[es of posts.

    What the Sad Puppy folks don’t seem to get is that this is very different than a a group of individuals posting on numerous sites a common ballot of what they think deserves to be nominated. I challenge the puppies to produce an identical ballot that was mass posted by people they think have been controlling the nominating process!

  3. Marissa says:

    Larry Correia now: “I believe most of the Hugo Voters are honest people who really value the system and they treat it very seriously; I have nothing but respect for those people.”

    Larry Correia before: (http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/01/28/ending-binary-gender-in-fiction-or-how-to-murder-your-writing-career/) “If you can’t stomach the comments long enough to hear what a typical WorldCon voter sounds like, let me paraphrase: “Fantastic! I’m so sick of people actually enjoying books that are fun! Let’s shove more message fiction down their throats! My cause comes before their enjoyment! Diversity! …”

    Most of the voters can treat it seriously and their votes range a whole gamut of tastes. A minority of voters treat it like the SJW Olympics and their narrow taste wins because they all vote for the same thing.

  4. Larry said that was the *typical* world con voter. Go back and check at his website if you like; I included the link.

    But really, you have it almost right: Most voters treat it seriously and nominate what they love, a large number of votes spread out over a whole gamut of tastes. A minority of voters treat it like the Sad Puppy Olympics and their narrow taste gets things nominated because they all nominate the same thing.

  5. I’ve listened to the last few podcasts with great interest, especially the parts that touched upon the Sad Puppies campaign and the present controversy surrounding them. On the whole I found myself sympathetic to their stated purposes, which is not surprising since I share much of their social and political point of view, though not all. That sympathy notwithstanding, I must agree they have sullied their cause with the Vox Day association.

    This is not because I find Vox Day’s political and social beliefs particularly offensive, insofar as I have encountered them from his blog…they are pretty normative sentiments where I’m from. Prior to these podcasts, I had heard neither of Sad Puppies nor Vox Day, and after listening I was curious to learn more. So, I sampled Vox’s blog and found his commentary no more inherently offensive than that expressed by his social reciprocals on the left…actually I found him less so, but a bit too angry in tone for my personal preference.

    What surprised me about his nomination, was that it appears to be the same kind of stunt statement making the right lays against the left. It had to be. After getting a sense of Vox’s beliefs and politics and finding them unoffensive in content, though heated, I went looking for his books on Amazon. First impression was good. He had some nice covers. Then I looked as his rank on several of his books and was stunned. For a Hugo Nominee, controversial or not, stunt or not, his sales so low many of them fell into the less than one book a day sold category. Something was amiss. So, I decided to sample one of his books. Then I understood the low sales, and was deeply puzzled by the Sad Puppies’ nomination of him for a Hugo. Awful doesn’t begin to describe his worldbuilding, his sense of how to craft a story. Don’t get me wrong, he has the mechanics down of writing, but not the story telling. I don’t even know how to describe the special kind of bad that it is. It’s a cartoon that is not aware it is a cartoon.

    His work’s great sin is that it is almost impossible to believe. I don’t believe his portrayal of the Church, of it’s clerics, history, naming conventions, or theology, which in my opinion, is largely a modern-day Protestant take on what one of their number might imagine a fantasy version of the Western Church in the middle ages was like, without doing any significant research beyond the occasional sermon of an ex Catholic minister. I would call it a fantasy in flannel board, but the characters were too flat and stiff. I could be mistaken, but that is the impression his “world” makes.

    It’s not my general habit to publicly disparage another’s works…but I have rarely come across something so monumentally badly written for sale. His works are not even in sniffing distance of the quality that should be reserved for Hugo nominees. And it is sad commentary that the Sad Puppies campaign seriously, if not mortally, hurt their own, I think laudable, cause with this stunt.

    That said, Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing has had some really good podcasts the past few weeks. Keep up the good work.

    Sincerely,
    Robert

    • He was only nominated for *one* novella (I believe), Opera Vita Aeterna, and it was excellent. I highly recommend it. Otherwise he was nominated as an editor.

      He deserved those nominations, because he put out several outstanding anthologies and books this year.

      If you think Brad or Larry recommended Vox as a stunt, I think you’re being unfair.

    • Vox Day wasn’t on the Sad Puppies slate.

  6. Tony Quick says:

    I wanted to listen to this podcast because even though I don’t share Larry Correia’s opinions because I think that it’s worth hearing and opening yourself to different viewpoints. I respect the decision to have him on the podcast to explain where he’s coming from but thought that he and Mr. Torgerson made some contradictory claims that went unquestioned.

    He argues that this is about representation and his aim is to introduce writers into the pool that are “normally ignored because they’re not popular with the little cliques that control voting” (Torgerson’s words) but it sounds like they’re both fine with this system so long as members of THEIR self-selected clique are the ones getting those accolades.

    There’s also this unspoken yet hard to ignore dog-whistle refrain of “checking off boxes,” “affirmative action,” and “social justice warriors” which makes it hard to believe that their gripes aren’t partially motivated by the increased attention to racial/sexual minorities and women in the genre. I don’t believe these men are racists or homophobes but I don’t think they realize that not everyone is so gung-ho about the prospect of preserving or reviving the “good old days” when the aforementioned marginalized groups went unrecognized and that “popular little clique” was called mainstream society.

    This interview also left me with the impression that this pair, while well intentioned, are severely lacking in self-awareness. I mean Mr. Torgeson derides the idea of making conventions a safe place and yet complains about men and women within his selected clique being subjected to self censorship and being mobbed on the internet within the span of a few sentences with no apparent sense of the irony. Both men deride checking off boxes but then proceed to check off those very same boxes to prove that they’re nomination choices are inclusive.

    But perhaps the most baffling prospect brought up by this interview was this idea that science fiction and fantasy came to fruition as a genre without the “activism” that it expresses in its current incarnation. I mean, do they really believe that? The Golden Age SF writers had a tendency to come on really strong with their political messages. Heinlein worked his libertarian views into many of his works. Asimov was a great proponent of science education and his work greatly reflects that bias. Ray Bradbury’s “Martian Chronicles” is an indictment of westward expansion and the concept of manifest destiny if I’ve ever read one. Arthur C. Clarke’s work oscillates between a fascination with the potential scientific achievement has to improve humanity’s reach and trepidation at how we might pervade ourselves in the process. That era, and every era of science fiction, has had activism weaved into it’s works. One doesn’t write fiction, especially in our genre, without a sense that there is something terribly off about the world at large.

    The whole reason that science fiction was and is considered the “dangerous” genre is because it focused on issues that pushed society in uncomfortable but arguably better directions. Activism is an inextricable part of our genre’s DNA. I know that Mr. Correia and Mr. Torgersen see themselves as the bad kids smoking cigarettes while leaning against the fence of the pristine lawn but when I hear them defend their actions as taking back their country…ahem sorry…taking back their genre and putting the screws to these “affirmative action” loving “activists,” they sound a lot more like the crotchety old man yelling at the next generation to get off their lawn.

    That’s my two cents. Keep up the good work!

    • I think “the increased attention to racial/sexual minorities and women in the genre” really sums up the issue. I don’t care about those things as a fan, and to the extent people are voting on the basis of those things, they are not serving SF, and are the reason SP exists.

      “Mr. Torgeson derides the idea of making conventions a safe place and yet complains about men and women within his selected clique being subjected to self censorship and being mobbed on the internet within the span of a few sentences with no apparent sense of the irony. ”

      It would indeed be ironic if Torgersen was trying to kick anyone out of anything. But he’s not. Progressives rarely seem to understand the distinction between objection and coercion.

      • Tony Quick says:

        I think it’s probably a good thing that you don’t consider race or sexuality when you’re considering what media to consume and pursue the entertainment that suits you best. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that. But if you’re honest with yourself, you should be able to admit that you (nor I) have any special window into the minds of voters. I think this idea that women, people of color, and LGBT writers have won these awards in the past simply on the basis of their being women, people of color, and LGBT writers is hurtful and somewhat offensive.

        Take the Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing podcast, for example. They do fine work for the field of Science Fiction and are thoroughly deserving of a Hugo. Should they win, there will be some who claim that it’s solely based on their inclusion on the Sad Puppies slate but to say that they were incapable of winning an award without this intervention (or that they only one because they invited Correia and Torgersen on their podcast) is a hurtful claim and denigrates the hard work these men and women have put into creating a great fan podcast.

        So in my opinion (and at the end of the day, that’s all this is), this idea that there are “affirmative action” winners is based on the same shoot-from-the-hip assumptions that led you to designate me a progressive without knowing the first thing about me simply because you happen to disagree with me.

    • He argues that this is about representation and his aim is to introduce writers into the pool that are “normally ignored because they’re not popular with the little cliques that control voting” (Torgerson’s words) but it sounds like they’re both fine with this system so long as members of THEIR self-selected clique are the ones getting those accolades.

      It “sounds” like that to you maybe. I certainly don’t see it.

      I don’t believe these men are racists or homophobes but I don’t think they realize that not everyone is so gung-ho about the prospect of preserving or reviving the “good old days” when the aforementioned marginalized groups went unrecognized and that “popular little clique” was called mainstream society.

      This is nonsense. When you submitted a story in the past you often used a pseudonym, and you had no blog or any internet info for people to look you up. How are you being denied access to magazines? Because they didn’t want to publish stories openly celebrating liberal points of view?

      Your comments about activism miss the point. Activism is fine; activism at the expense of story is the problem.

      • Tony Quick says:

        I think that we can agree without too much difficulty that it wasn’t a uniform practice for all science fiction writers to use pseudonyms. Genre writers have used pseudonyms of course. C.J. Cherryh and J.K. Rowling both used initials instead of their names because it was commonly accepted among publishers that women writers wouldn’t receive the same audience men would. James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Sheldon) used a pseudonym because she thought “a male name seemed like good camouflage. I had a feeling a man would slip by unobserved. I’ve had too many experiences in my life of being the first woman in some damned occupation.”

        Admittedly, there were writers who used pseudonyms for unrelated reasons. Ayn Rand’s pseudonym seemed to have nothing to do with gender disparity and John le Carre chose to write under a false name because as a former member of MI6 he wasn’t allowed to use his actual name. Even so, I think that the need (for some) to adopt a pseudonym and masquerade as male writers speaks to the situation for authors who didn’t conform to the accepted norm.

        The suggestion that without the internet it wasn’t possible to research someone’s identity (while highly debatable) seems to suggest that I’m saying marginalized groups were actively barred from publication. Time and experience has taught me that most are unable to understand how inequality can exist without willful malicious intent. But the truth is, the most pervasive forms of disparity aren’t intentional: they’re ingrained, habitual, and inconspicuous. It doesn’t take George Wallace standing at the school house door (so to speak) to keep a population’s body of work from being recognized or appreciated. It just takes unmindful neglect and apathy (I mean, isn’t that exactly the case that Sad Puppies is attempting to make for their brand of fiction?).

        I’d also imagine we’d disagree about what is considered “activism.” I just don’t see aggressive activism in books that feature the diversity already present in our world is so radical. When I was young, most of the science fiction and realist fiction I read took place in an alternate universe where no one but white men existed (with the occasional unicorn minority). Well, that’s just not the world we live in anymore. If science fiction has any chance of remaining relevant in the 21st century, it’ll have to evolve and adapt to the changing socio-political climate. And most people are capable of seeing that yes, straight white men also fit into that future. As for “activism,” one of the early lessons for writers is to have your characters grapple with conflict. Presenting the challenges that face marginalized groups on the page isn’t a social justice warrior picking up their katana. It isn’t “activism at the expense of story.” IT IS STORY. Just maybe not one you’re accustomed to.

        Mr. Correia, Mr. Torgensen, and others who want to carve a place for their own brand of science fiction are more than welcome to add their stories to the masala (and seem to be doing so quiet successfully). There should be stories that represent a conservative outlook as well as a liberal outlook (and a socialist outlook or an anarchist outlook and so on). They will find their audiences and perhaps those audiences will cross-pollinate. That’s how storytelling works. But I don’t see any reason whatsoever to de-legitimize the successes of those who have won Hugo awards and worked just as hard as anyone else to earn their place on stage just because they don’t share your experience or attributes.

        Science fiction is not a zero-sum game. This isn’t highlander. There can be more than one.

        • I really like what you had to share on this thread, Tony. You really summed up many of my thoughts about this issue – reasonable, clear, fair, as well as inclusive. Nicely done and appreciated.

Speak Your Mind

*

Comments Protected by WP-SpamShield for WordPress