2015/11/02

Fisking Wired

fisk

Entertainment Weekly Wired ran a hit piece against Sad Puppies on Friday. The author is an ostensibly accomplished writer whose journalistic neglect and aversion to contrary evidence nonetheless compel me to refer to her as "hack".

Jobs like this don't normally fall to me, but the regular guy is out of town on business. Hack should be grateful for this turn of events, because the aforementioned starting player has raised the humble fisk to the level of fine performance art.

Then again, as a bench-warmer, I have less to lose. Since somebody has to give this hatchet job the fisking it's so pitifully begging for, it might as well be me. Note: the original piece is quite long and fluff-riddled, so I'm not reproducing the whole thing.

Hack's libel appears below in italics. My comments appear in bold.

Named for pioneering editor Hugo Gernsback, the Hugos are the Oscars of sci-fi—with a dollop of the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, because they aren’t bestowed by members of an academy. Any and all science fiction fans who care to pay a membership fee can vote.

We're only three paragraphs in, and hack has already written the sentence that detonates her narrative. If the Hugos are a populist award open to anyone who buys a Worldcon membership, then she and the CHORFs are trying to disenfranchise valid members who have the wrong politics, i.e. "wrongfans".

For Kloos, who self-published his first novel before signing with Amazon’s 47North imprint in 2013, being named a Hugo finalist for his sophomore effort was enormously validating.

And barring the "wrongfan" argument, there's no reason it shouldn't have stayed that way.

Which is why it was so devastating when he realized a few weeks later that his short-listing was, in his eyes, a sham. It turned out that activists angered by the increasingly multicultural makeup of Hugo winners—books featuring women, gay and lesbian characters, and people and aliens of every color—had gamed the voting system, mounting a campaign for slates of nominees made up mostly of white men.

Note the midstream shift from discussing the sex, sexual orientation, and race of characters in winning books to focusing on the race and sex of nominated books' authors. That's not mere sloppy writing. If hack had compared apples to apples, her readers might've noticed that authors of recent Hugo winning novels have been less multicultural than the NHL.

Until this year, when Rabid Puppies ensured victory for Liu Cixin.

Kloos, who is white, says he was sickened to see his name listed. “I knew right away I was going to have to sit down and write an email and reject the nomination,” Kloos says. To his publisher, whose authors had never gotten a Hugo nod, Kloos was blunt. “This is the kind of stink,” he said, “that doesn’t wash off.”

Kloos' statement declining the nomination listed his selection by Rabid Puppies on the presumed basis of politics as his sole reason for withdrawing. Hack is using weasel words to give the false impression that Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies are a single monolithic bloc composed of bigots, and that Kloos refused his nomination to protest this made-up bloc's made-up bigotry.

Brad Torgersen's goal for Sad Puppies 3 was to help deserving works break through the political barriers erected by the CHORFs (Cliquish, Holier-than-thou, Obnoxious, Reactionary Fanatics). And the slate he put together features a mix of cultures, races, and political opinions that puts recent lists of Hugo winners to shame.

Back in April, when the main­stream press first started reporting on the attempt to hijack the Hugos, few outside the field cared.

Does Hack mean this story from Entertainment Weekly? I'm guessing she does, since her hit piece reads like an even more pretentious, rambling version of the same tripe. Did laziness or willful journalistic malpractice motivate Hack to parrot bullshit that EW was forced to admit was bullshit? You decide.

The edging out of fan-favorite authors who were women and people of color was unfortunate and ugly, but it seemed confined to one of literature’s crummier neighborhoods—nerd-on-nerd violence.

I'd call this sentence plain stupid if I wasn't sure that it's cynical and deceptive. SP and RP voters who paid good money to join Worldcon aren't "real fans". And remember, those wrongfans are bigots for robbing hypothetical women and minorities of their rightful nominations.

Unfortunately for Hack, Worldcon's published Hugo statistics show us who SP and RP bumped off the ballot. Without prying into people's family business or secretly gathering hair samples for DNA testing, claims that Puppy candidates stole nominations from women and minorities don't look too convincing.

Let's also not forget who voted in lock step to publicly humiliate Kary English, Toni Weisskopf, Sheila Gilbert, Cedar, Sanderson, and Amanda Green.

And there were plenty of white men knocked off the short list, but who cares about them?

I guarantee you that the hyperbolic mention of violence is deliberate.

But like the sound of starship engines, the Hugos don’t exist in a vacuum. “Gamergate” spawns rape threats aimed at women who have the temerity to offer opinions about videogames.

Mark off "unsubstantiated gamedropping" on your bingo cards.

Hack accuses a 250,000 member consumer revolt of "spawning rape threats" without a shred of evidence. That's not surprising, since the only credible Gamergate-related threat to date was the bomb threat called in against Gamergate.

By the way, you'll know when Gamergate gets involved in the Hugos when the number of SP/RP voters goes from 1000 to 10,000.

The leading representatives of mainstream political parties build platforms around fear of Muslims and Planned Parenthood.

DEMAGOGUERY II: DEMAGOGUE HARDER!

A certain strain of comic book fan goes apoplectic when Captain America gets replaced with a black man and Thor gets replaced with a woman. (When Thor once got replaced by a frog, no one uttered a peep. Or a ribbit.)

If hack had bothered to do any research, she'd have found that it's not Cap's skin color so much as his misuse as a partisan sock puppet stretched over the writer's sweaty ham fist that's alienating fans.

As for lady Thor:

female Thor
What if it's clunky, tin-eared dialog like this; not sexism, that led to Marvel cancelling this title?

Mad Max: Fury Road, in which Charlize Theron seeks to rescue a bunch of women from sex slavery and Max is more of a sidekick, drove the so-called mens’ rights movement into a froth.

Did hack just try to make a pun? Plea to the editors at Wired: don't let her write any more jokes until she gets the hang of research.

It looks an awful lot like a counterrevolution—a push by once-powerful forces attempting to reclaim privileged status.

She can't do puns, but here hack manages an adequate impression of a broken clock. She also reveals what the Hugos are all about to the CHORFs: not worthy fiction, but power.

Nowhere is this revanchism playing out more vividly than in the culturally potent literary subgenre of science fiction.

The Puppies can take a backhanded compliment as well as anybody, but Gamergate earned that honor.

The three white men who led this movement...

I already see four problems with that statement.

...broke no rules when they selected and promoted their Hugo nominees.

The obligatory "they didn't break any rules" pretense of objectivity comes far too late.

They took advantage of a loophole in an arcane voting process that enables a relatively small number of voters to dominate.

And how do we know that a small clique can dominate the awards--perhaps because it's happened before?

First a group calling itself the Sad Puppies posted a slate of suggested candidates to a well-trafficked blog (a slate that included women writers as well as men). Then, a day later, a more militant wing, the Rabid Puppies, posted another slate that captured most of the original writers and added several more—with a directive that people vote it without deviating, creating an unstoppable bloc.

Annie Bellet, Jennifer Brozek, Anne Sowards, Kary English, Toni Weisskopf, Sheila Gilbert, Amanda Green, and Cedar Sanderson are dudes?

By the way, voting data shows that the "No Award" crowd fit the description of "unstoppable bloc" far better than SP/RP did.

Now, all the various Puppies insist they’re trying to expand, not reduce, diversity (at least as they define the word).

The term that hack avoids using to describe how SP/RP define the word is "correctly".

Also, note how she vacillates between treating the Puppies as a monolith and acknowledging the two separate groups. I don't see any advantage in it, so I'll chalk it up to laziness.

They say the Hugos have gotten snobby and exclusionary. The Puppies hate the politicization of a genre they love and want to return it to its roots: exploration of the unknown and two-fisted adventure.

The second, and final, broken clock impression of the evening.

Incidentally, fans' tastes aligning with the Puppies' might just explain the Big 5's plummeting SFF sales.

Of course, like all fiction, science fiction is inherently political.

Translation: we will not rest until politics engulfs even the least, remotest corner of human existence.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, arguably the first sci-fi novel, was a monster story that explored the ethics of technological advance and the responsibilities of parent­hood.

To normal people, this sentence seems like a non sequitur. But remember: to hack and her busybody accomplices, everything is political. Even raising children should be some bureaucrat's responsibility.

Sci-fi uses a fantastical toolkit to take apart the here and now—from H. G. Wells’ novella The Time Machine to Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl, a cautionary tale of climate change.

Paolo writing about climate change=award worthy cautionary tale. Larry writing about FDR's internment camps=lowbrow garbage.

But there's no political bias in the Hugos.

So trying to crush diversity of authors, of characters, of stories, of themes in sci-fi crushes the whole point.

Translation: we need to enforce diversity in sci-fi by snobbishly excluding white, straight, male authors and characters, stories, and themes anywhere to the right of Friedrich Engels.

Which is perhaps the main reason to worry about Puppygate: Sci-fi that accommodates only one future, one kind of politics, and one kind of person just isn’t doing its job.

Hack rightfully admits her fear of Puppies. But since she lacks the ability to comprehend anyone outside her fashionable LA social circle, she projects her own motives into the knowledge-void where her understanding of the opposition should be.

That’s partially why so many authors with literary aspirations come sniffing around the genre so often. It lets them wrap ethical and cultural issues in highly readable plots.

Literary snobs resort to selling lectures disguised as science fiction when the market dispels their delusions of grandeur. It's almost as if sci-fi fans who like thrilling, two-fisted adventure tales have been inundated with dull, preachy message fic.

I'm starting to reconsider the word "hack", because a hack is still a kind of writer. I actually have a lot of respect for authors who can crank out a work for hire to order under a deadline. But unlike real hacks, this hack seems to think that a plot alone makes a book "highly readable".

She sounds like a poser who pesters real writers with a "million dollar idea" that she'll sell to them for "half the profits".

And now that movies are dominated by space and superheroes, television by dragons and zombies, books by plagues and ghosts, science fiction isn’t a backwater anymore. It’s mainstream.

Hack makes a list of fun things. And chillingly hints at the MSM-abetted CHORFs' mandate to pervert them to their political ends.


Skipping over irrelevant N. K. Jemisin quote. Muddled references to the Futurians and the Red Scare.


The Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies aren’t even the first to campaign for the award. In 1987 the Church of Scientology successfully lobbied to get L. Ron Hubbard’s novel Black Genesis nominated for a Hugo. It finished sixth out of five nominees, defeated by “No Award.”

She forgot someone.

This time around, the leaders of the Puppies movement are sci-fi authors. All are past Hugo nominees, though none of them has ever won. Larry Correia, a 40-year-old Utah accountant, former gun store owner, and NRA lobbyist turned novelist...

And apparently, in what must be a big surprise to him, a white guy.

..created the Sad Puppies three years ago.


Larry, Brad, and Vox are interviewed. It's nothing you can't get better accounts of here, here, and here.

Then follows a digression into the plot of an N. K. Jemisin novel that typifies the sort of message fic smuggled in under the guise of SFF discussed above.

But then we take this detour down Unquestioned Narrative Street:

But here’s the honest truth, as Jemisin has eloquently blogged: White male authors have long enjoyed unacknowledged privileges. Even today, their books are more likely to get published, more likely to be reviewed (usually by white men), and more likely to get those reviews in prominent, mainstream publications—even though, Jemisin says, the audience for sci-fi and fantasy books includes so many women and people of color.

Omitted: if white male authors are getting special treatment, it's women who are giving it to them.


Not omitted: implied accusation that Vox Day and his readers are white supremacist rapists.


There is one more interesting Jemisin quote:

"...we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom."

Wait. That was actually Kang from The Simpsons. Here's Jemisin:

“Science fiction is not actually the literature of the future,” she says. “It’s the literature of the present, viewing the future as allegory.”

Stirring stuff!


Just as significantly, this is the same author who tweeted this about #BoycottStarWarsVII, which was also reported on by Wired, even though it turned out to be a hoax.

And that's as good an excuse to wrap up this clown funeral as any.

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