Matters of Honor, Power, and Illusions

Matters of Honor, Power, and Illusions

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about honor and rules when it comes to combat, debate, arguing, and society. I’ve half-written about a dozen entries on this so I decided to come back and do an intro since it’s going to be a pretty lengthy subject. Others have written about it before and a lot of what they’ve said is worth reading. However, recent events — the fight over the Hugos, the issue with white-washing the entire Civil War out of American history, the Balkanization of society, and so on, has made me do a lot of thinking which starts out around honor.

Basically, one side believes in honor and the other side believes in “the end justifies the means.” We’re not even really fighting over the same thing here and it’s taken me quite a while to realize it. It didn’t strike me until I was re-reading We and got to thinking about dystopian literature (which, of course, always leads back to Orwell’s 1984). This isn’t about freedom vs slavery, capitalism vs socialism, statism vs dynamism, red vs blue, Democrats vs Republicans — that’s all just a front. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

It’s about power. Who has it? Who’s going to keep it? What is power, really? And does it even truly exist or is it just another illusion? Is it just another shadow on Plato’s cavern wall? I honestly don’t know but it’s got all my little INT lights just a-flickering so I’m hoping some of you will stick around with me while I knock these ideas around. They’re not going to be perfect and I welcome honest discussion on the matter because I get the sense that this is something the Founding Fathers “got” intuitively. That power (outside of actual physical power — as in “laws of physics” kind of power) is just an illusion. It’s a kind of mass mutually-shared hallucination we participate in by agreement and if enough of us decide to stop playing the game — like in the Matrix — we might be able to bring the entire system into a state of crash or some kind of kernel panic.

It’d be interesting, at least. That is if I’m even anywhere near correct on this (which isn’t a given).

So, anyone up for it?

— G.K.

Oh Good Grief…

Oh Good Grief...

I found this particular piece of stupidity over at Peter Grant’s site.

I don’t know if Moshe Feder lives in an echo chamber, has difficulty reading English, or what, so, here goes.

Here is why I am no longer going to buy any books published by Tor:

  1. Contrary to Irene Gallo’s statements, I am not a neo-nazi. My paternal grandfather fought the Nazis in WWII and was at the D-Day landings in Normandy, on Omaha Beach. He came over with the third wave in the afternoon, I believe. His force was part of the Big Red One. They were part of the Saint-Lô breakout, the liberation of France, the Battle of the Bulge, the push to Aachen, the liberation of the concentration camps Zwodau and Falkenau an der Eger. He was probably in Germany or Czechoslovakia when the war in Europe ended in May 1945.

    He would have been twenty-one years old on VE Day.
  2. Calling someone a neo-nazi and saying that the works they like are “bad-to-reprehensible” when your own employer publishes those works and then expecting them to keep buying said works is a bit stupid.
  3. Calling someone a neo-nazi and then saying “I’m sorry if you were offended” is not an apology. For example, were I to say that Tor’s senior staff consists of a high number of pederast- and/or pedophile-sympathizers in light of their lack of condemnation for Marion Zimmer Bradley’s admitted sexual abuse of her son and daughter and then turn around and say “I’m sorry if that offends you,” would that be considered a sincere apology or an insincere one? Please explain and defend your choice of answer logically and show. your. work.

    For the record, I honestly, hand-to-Albert-Einstein believe that Tor’s senior staff feels nothing other than complete disgust at MZB’s actions and that their lack of statement has to do with the length of time since the events took place and possibly could have something to do with contracts they signed or non-disclosure agreements along with the general tendency people have not to speak ill of the deceased — even when the deceased did despicable things.
  4. I’m also not sexist (I’m an equal-opportunity mistrust-er), racist (my black and Latino friends can attest to it), or homophobic (my gay and lesbian friends would get a real kick out of that one). I’m not transphobic (one of my business partners can vouch for me there) and I’m certainly not parochial (scads of witnesses on that one). I’m probably better-traveled, better-educated, more well-read, speak more languages, and just all-around more knowledgeable in general than most of the senior staff at Tor.

So, about the only thing they can hang on me is that I’m from Mississippi and Mississippi has the something-that-kind-of-looks-like-the-Stars-and-Bars in its state flag. Sort of. If you squint. And look at it through special goggles. Of course, this ignores the whole history of the State Flag* and the history of the “Rebel Flag” as it’s called (btw, the actual Confederate Flag is the Bonnie Blue Flag — a single white star on a field of blue).

If being from Mississippi automatically makes someone a horrible, terrible, no-good person, then, well, the world is in a whole lotta trouble. See, William Faulkner is from here. Eudora Welty is, too. Same with Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Morgan Freeman, James Earl Jones, Jim Henson, Medger Evers, Brandy, Jimmie Rodgers, Tennessee Williams, Tammy Wynette, James Meredith, Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddly, Richard Wright, Carl Westcott, Sela Ward…

Just to name a few.

You’re welcome, by the way, for the music and the stories. What can we say? It’s in our blood, black or white, it “don’t make no difference” because we’re all the same under the skin where it matters.

At any rate, I’m sick and tired of being called a horrible person. I’ve made the rational choice not to award my money to someone who calls me a horrible person. I’m quite proud of my grandfather — who fought the Nazis in World War II and would probably take umbrage at my being called a neo-nazi — and I’m also proud of all the women I’m related to who bucked the trends in their lives and lived on their own terms. Some of them got divorces back when a divorce made you a virtual pariah — but better that than living with an abusive drunk. Some of them worked outside of the home and owned businesses when that was Simply. Not. Done. My mom and her older sister are two of the smartest women I know and their older brother is probably the smartest person in that part of our family (I might have a high IQ but I can be a complete idiot in a lot of ways). They’ve all worked hard to fight for equality for all people and to make a world where you’re judged solely on how hard you’re willing to work and on your merits alone and I’m proud of that. To continue to give money to a company that calls me a racist, a neo-nazi, a sexist, or a homophobe would be to spit on my own gay, trans, black, and Latino friends as well as three generations of my family who have fought oppression.

Not to mention to turn my back on all of the people from my state who have worked so hard to make an equal playing field and share our rich heritage with the world.

So no. I’m not going to buy any more books from a company based out of New fucking York that calls me a neo-nazi based on zero evidence and refuses to issue an actual apology. New York has more money than Midas. Tell you what, though. I will up the ante. If all of these so-called “social justice warriors” really want to prove their credibility, how about they quit giving their money to people who can afford to live in New York and start donating it to groups working to provide computers, Internet access, and better educational facilities and economic opportunities to students and recent graduates in Mississippi?**

Time to fish or cut bait, y’all.

— G.K.

*Mississippi adopted the current flag in 1894 — way before the Rebel Flag became racist. Also, the canton has thirteen stars in the MS flag, not eleven (the nitwits never seem to notice this) because they stand for the original 13 states of the Union, not the 11 states that seceded. Back in 2000, the NAACP sued the state to try to force us to change the flag. Their first argument was that the canton was the Rebel Flag and that since it’s against the law to fly the Rebel flag as an official flag, it violated their right to freedom of speech and due process. However, the MS Supreme Court threw that out because 13 != 11 in base10. Still, back in 1906, the MS legislature did a general repeal of all laws and kind of forgot to re-add the flag back when they re-did the new legal code. So, on that technicality, it was found that the flag in use since 1894 was not the “official” flag and we had to have an election to decide if we were going to make it official or change it.

So, in 2001, we voted to keep it the way it was. Not because we’re all a bunch of racists but because we’re the poorest goddamned state in the Union and we’ve got better things to spend the thirty million dollars it would cost to change the state flag on. Hell, it cost over two million dollars just to have the election on the issue and it was a nearly 70% support to keep the current flag.

Biggest reason? Because it’s a piece of cloth. It’s not even the stupid Rebel Flag in the canton. Because no one freaking cares. Because changing it isn’t going to change anyone’s attitudes. Because we’ve got better things to spend that money on — schools, teachers, hospitals, roads — than what a bunch of rich lawyers in California who may or may not ever set foot in our state get a bug up their butts about.

…but I digress.

**I’mma love to hear the excuses on this one. We already have taxes in-state about as high as we can set them without causing businesses and individuals to flee and we’re already redistributing as best we can but since school funding primarily comes from local property taxes, it’s hard to make that stretch very far without causing taxpayer revolt and our state sales tax is already among the highest and the most widespread in the nation (it even is levied on food) so, yeah, we are already taxing the shit out of ourselves and the rich and still coming up short. However, “rich” in Mississippi would be “can afford to eat cat food every other day and live in a fleabag extended stay roach motel” in NYC so we are talking different orders of magnitude here, folks.

We Didn’t Start the Flamewar — Part Four

We Didn't Start the Flamewar -- Part Four

*drumming on a table that looks like it belongs in a kitchen from the 1950s*

New McCarthy, Loads of bitchin’, Monster Huntin’, Internetin’
Trad Publishing, Indie Pubbing, and Jeff Bezos

Blacklisting, Barflies, Evil League and Rabbit Guys
eBooks, ePub, mobi rise — nook flames out in Kindle’s fires

*chorus repeats*

I am so not a songwriter so the lyrics are actually the part of the post that takes me the longest to come up with, guys. :) I hope you’re enjoying them.

So, this post is going to look at the Sad Puppies 2 era. SP2 was a lot more organized and successful than SP1 and it caught much more attention. It was headed up by Larry Correia and announced in this post over at his site. As with SP1, SP2 did not initially advocate for any specific works and, from that post, the central theme was this:

The ugly truth is that the most prestigious award in sci-fi/fantasy is basically just a popularity contest, where the people who are popular with a tiny little group of WorldCon voters get nominated and thousands of other works are ignored. Books that tickle them are declared good and anybody who publically deviates from groupthink is bad. Over time this lame ass award process has become increasingly snooty and pretentious, and you can usually guess who all of the finalists are going to be that year before any of the books have actually come out or been read by anyone, entirely by how popular the author is with this tiny group.

This is a leading cause of puppy related sadness.

The only thing missing is “Think of the children…”

However, while nomination and discussion about who should be nominated was going on, a very fun thing happened in the sci-fi/fantasy world. started a rather big dust-up over ending binary gender usage in sci-fi and fantasy works. From that post:

Conversations about gender in SF have been taking place for a long time. I want to join in. I want more readers to be aware of texts old and new, and seek them out, and talk about them. I want more writers to stop defaulting to binary gender in their SF—I want to never again read entire anthologies of SF stories or large-cast novels where every character is binary-gendered. I want this conversation to be louder.

Note that she’s not saying “I want people to come up with races where gender/sex traits are different” or “I’d like an exploration of what it means to be a man or a woman in a given culture” or that she wants an end to gendered roles or anything like that. What she wants is to continue the current clusterfuck of chaotic confusion that is crossing between the kink and LGBT community with the genderqueer. However, she’s actually being a few billion magnitudes of order less understanding and tolerant than they are — the genderqueer and those who don’t identify with their apparent physical sex know that they’re going against biological norms (the word norm is being used in a statistical sense just like my being blonde is abnormal) and they do *not* expect everyone to know how to address them on sight. They also know that most people do identify with their birth sex. Further, they’re not demanding that the whole of society change itself and its language to accommodate them without them making any concessions.

I’m pretty damned tolerant and “whatever, so long as I don’t have to pay for it ’cause I’m skint.” I’ve got gay friends, trans friends, genderqueer friends… I even have one friend who is a gay, trans black man. However, none of them have an issue with gendered characters. All of them *write* characters that are binary gendered. If they have a character that is genderqueer or goes against the binary system, that character is the exception (if the cast is human. In cases where we’re dealing with an alien race, all bets are off). Still, when posted this little thing, it set the entire sci-fi/fantasy world alight and kicked SP2 into high gear. Larry Correia had a lot to say about this particular bit of social justice insanity.

There’s a reason I mention it here and you’ll see in a bit. At any rate, SP2 continued until the nominations were chosen and then submitted with reminders of how to nominate and reminders about when nominations were getting close to ending as well as when the nominees were announced and the resulting aftermath that followed the awards ceremony. Sad Puppies 2 was the beginning of the deeper reflection on how the Hugos, SJWs, and the trends in sci-fi and fantasy publishing were not just an anomaly but were part of a greater culture war.

Remember the “end of binary gendering” thing I mentioned earlier? Well, 2014 was the year that Larry Correia really started riling up the SJWs (at least that I can see) and the Sad Puppies effort in many ways became a bit of a rallying cry for many sci-fi and fantasy authors across the Internet to discuss the SJW incursion into their realm.

Keep in mind that this happened eight months before GamerGate.

People were getting sick and tired of being preached at. They were sick of token diverity-ism that was being held up as more important than the story and the way that identity politics and the author’s personal life and beliefs were used in place of actually judging whether or not their work was well-written, entertaining, and told a good story where the message played a role.

If you read the discussions, you’ll see that much of it is well-thought-out arguments about the problems of writing non-binary characters as well as the truth about historical depictions of women in sci-fi that flew in the face of the alternate reality the SJWs were advancing.

Not that that stopped them. They went after Larry Correia very hard in 2014 with File 770 and the Guardian attacking him and misrepresenting what he was hoping to achieve with Sad Puppies. The Guardian journalist, Damien Walter continued his attack on Larry’s Facebook page.

In August 2014, GamerGate happened and in November came ShirtStorm which had some overlap with the SP community due to shared interest (just like there is overlap between people who like French cooking and people who like French wine). However, SP2 really just served to underscore Correia’s initial points about the Hugos and caused the movement to gain more attention than SP1 had.

It was the next year’s effort, Sad Puppies 3, that really blew the lid off the entire mess. That will be the subject of the next entry.

— G.K.

On dinosaurs, colossi, golems, governments, and adaptation

On dinosaurs, colossi, golems, governments, and adaptation

…and why they all tend to die out in the end.

It’s an interesting fact in the history of biological life that the oldest form of life on Earth is the bacteria (and arguably the virus). Not just because they’re simple entities — amoeba are also fairly simple as are many members of the protist branch. It’s also interesting to note that bacteria, protists, and viruses from the Proterozoic Eon (roughly 2500 million years ago) of the are still around. They’re still happily doing their thing, sometimes killing vast swathes of plants and animals, without a care in the world. They’ll be here long after humanity has either turned to dust or departed for worlds unknown.

It’s amazing, when you think about it. These tiny, simple, mindless, invisible things have outlasted the dinosaurs. The KT impact was barely a blip on their radar. The Ice Age? Again, barely registered to them. They kept on keeping on. The dinosaurs had them beat on size, strength, teeth, defensive features (immune systems and thick hides and spikes!), could move around more, reproduce sexually, were more genetically diverse… and then along came a single hunk of rock and it was bye-bye dinosaurs while the little microscopic dudes kept on truckin’. The dinosaurs were the masters of their environment, true, but bacteria and viruses are the masters of adaptation. And, when it comes to long-term, long-scale, universal and planetary survival, adaptation is the key trait if you’re going to be more than just a bit player in the grand game of life.

Humanity has been fighting an on-going war with some members of these groups forever. We have an immune system that fights them and we also use plants to try to counteract them and have done since we figured out we could do that way back during the prehistoric era. It’s been a long-running fight and in all that time, we’ve managed to eradicate one of them. Small pox. The rest are still merrily going about their way. Some of them we need. Some of them kill us. Some of them we are trying to eradicate and can’t even with all our technology, all our grand colossi and skyscrapers, all our golems and governments. And, compared to the dinosaurs, we’re easy prey. I mean, we don’t have big sharp teeth, scaly hides, powerful muscles, we’re not the size of the brontosaurus or the T-Rex. We don’t have the armor plating of the Triceratops or the stegosaurus. We couldn’t outrun a velociraptor if we wanted to.

However, like the viruses and bacteria, we’re great at adaptation and we’re capable of breaking off into small groups. We can mix traits on multiple levels — not just genetic but memetic — and see what works. It’s when we try to be like the dinosaurs that things get bad for us. Yes, we can gather into large groups and become like a tsunami sometimes and sometimes that’s good — think things like food drives, building houses for the homeless, SETI@home, KickStarter — but notice that all of those things are voluntary. They’re also all temporary efforts. No one joins in every KickStarter campaign or builds every house. And, tribes banding together in a common effort isn’t always a bad thing — look at the success the United States and the entire Anglosphere has enjoyed over the past few centuries. But, if we’re not left with room to adapt inside those structures, it’ll all go wonky.

The problem in recent history has been that some parts of human society want us to be more colossal and monolithic because they believe that’s the only way to progress. I’m specifically thinking of the left-wing “progressives” who want to grant the government the power to regulate just about every aspect of life — economic, social, education, cultural, philosophical — to mandate certain outcomes they deem “fair.” However, doing that has always bred the ability to adapt to sudden change right out of the people and the society. Just look at what happened to the Soviet Union and to Eastern Europe. Look at what’s happening in all of the South American and Latin American countries that embraced socialism and communism and their five-year plans. Just look at Cuba and North Korea. Look at the Middle East and most of the African nations. Look at most of Europe that’s embraced socialism. When changes happen, they can’t cope. Birth rates fall — they cannot adapt to the new reality. In Europe, they imported new generations to replenish their falling population rates but could not adapt to the changes that brought and still can’t handle it — look at the riots, the carbeques that are just a fact of life there, the zones sensibles around Paris, the re-emergence of a new underclass and caste system that may be socially and culturally permanent since there’s no way for the French, the Germans, the Britons, or the Swedes to change how “French,” “German,” “British,” or “Swedish,” is defined or how someone can become a member of those tribes other than by birth. The Industrial Revolution ended and was replaced by the paradigm-shifting Digital revolution and these nations cannot adapt.

Industries are having problems as well. The publishing world got hit by the KT impact of Amazon and the Internet just like the movie and music industries and since they’re all populated by rather monolithic corporations who have a lot vested in the status quo ante, they not only don’t want to adapt, but they may not be able to. The Big Five may die entirely just like the dinosaurs did because, while Amazon is a large beast, it’s more like a large colony of bacteria and less like a brontosaurus. If one part of Amazon fails, it won’t bring down the whole thing. Amazon is acing the adaptation thing while the Big Five not only are failing at it but, given some of Tor’s senior management’s recent behavior, they’re doing everything they can to destroy their own food supplies and water sources.

Hell, the United States is having trouble dealing with the chaos that the Digital Revolution has wrought and we’re probably the most flexible and adaptable nation and society on the planet. The genius of the Founders guaranteed that. Which is why I have a really hard time wrapping my head around the idea that we should be like the rest of the world and become more rigid and inflexible. Do we have our problems? Yes. Do we have our imperfections — of course! Are there inequalities? Without a doubt. Is it better to have those problems than to be unable to deal with changes in reality? Is it better to be a bacteria or a dinosaur?

I say it’s better to be a bacteria. I say it’s better to be something that can adapt quickly and rapidly even if that means that there’s going to be a lot of inequality and imperfection and problems because it means at least you’re alive to deal with them instead of being extinct the first time a big rock comes your way. After all, if you’re alive, you can work to try to minimize those inequalities — for instance, make it illegal to discriminate against people based on things like race, religion, orientation, gender, political philosophy; make it so that society and economics is more of a meritocracy. If you’re dead… well, there’s really not much you can do (other than vote Democrat, of course).

— G.K.

Dear Tor: I’m an evil unicorn, not a robot!

Dear Tor: I'm an evil unicorn, not a robot!

Dear Tor,

I am an evil unicorn, not a bot. Love and kisses! G.K. Masterson

I mean, I am an INTJ which, I’ve been told, means I have a sometimes robotic personality but I promise you, I’m a real person.

My mother swears I was actually born in the usual way and not hatched, dropped off by wandering aliens, beamed down as part of a reconnaissance mission, or delivered by a very confused parcel servicebeing operating out of the Corona Borealis supercluster who just took a wrong turn at the Sloan Great Wall. And, given that my niece looks exactly like me, I’m inclined to believe that my mother is telling the truth so I’m definitely human.

I know, I’m a bit disappointed, too, Tor, but we have to deal with reality as it is, not as we which it could be.

Now, I’ve been a pretty avid reader since I was about two and a half years old. And, I’m definitely a geek as these photos will attest.

As you can see, I have quite a few Tor books in my library. Over the years, I’ve massed a sizable collection of Tor books that is worth around about $3000. On average, I purchased about $50 worth of Tor books a month on my Kindle. So, while I’m not going to put much of a dent in Tor’s bottom line by myself, I’ll bet the authors whose books I bought will feel it and they might decide to move to a publisher who doesn’t call their customers neonazis and bots. And, ultimately, if Tor doesn’t have books to publish, they have a problem, don’t they?

— G.K.

We Didn’t Start the Flamewar — Part Three

We Didn't Start the Flamewar -- Part Three

*dons shades and sits at a table in a kitchen from the 1940s*

Larry Correia, Sarah H., Puppy Sadness, Vox Day
Social Justice, WrongFen Haters, Scalzi’s Twitter Mob

We didn’t start the flamewar
It was always burning
Since the ‘Net’s been churning
We didn’t start the flamewar
No we didn’t light it
But we’ll damned well fight it

Lyrics to be continued

So, this is the first part of the in depth history of the Sad Puppies part of this series (wow, that’s a mouthful). I spent a lot of time yesterday reading up on this. Sad Puppies has been running for three years now and was started by Larry Correia back in January 2013. That means it predates GamerGate by a fair margin (since there have been some accusations that Sad Puppies and GamerGate are the same thing or that GamerGate started the Sad Puppies. The only way that could have happened would have been for the GamerGate movement to have access to 1) a time machine, 2) a DeLorean with a Flux Capacitor and either a Mr. Fusion or Plutonium, or 3) a TARDIS. Since I’m fairly certain none of those three things are true, it’s a safe bet that GamerGate and Sad Puppies are two distinct phenomena which simply have some members in common since people who like video games also tend to enjoy reading and occasionally writing fantasy or sci-fi books).

Like many of us, Larry noticed that there had been a divergence between what was selling well and what was winning the Hugos and had been for some time. He informed his fans that all they had to do in order to nominate a work for the Hugo or the Campbell awards was to purchase a membership to WorldCon. Since the membership for WorldCon is rather small, it doesn’t take many votes to get on the ballot or to win an award. He called his effort to get his own work on the ballot “Sad Puppy” as a tongue-in-cheek commentary against the current tendency to award works that were literary-fic or message-fic instead of works that were selling or well-liked by the entire sci-fi/fantasy audience. It’s not the first time such a gag was used — after all, on various tech forums I hang around, “Think Of The Children” is used in the same sarcastic fashion.

Won’t someone think of the sad puppies and the children?

In Sad Puppies 1, Larry did suggest his own works because there wasn’t any real organization back then. It was just him on his own. He was soliciting his own fans to nominate him (but he did not buy votes or memberships for anyone) and probably felt it would be a bit strange to ask them to nominate someone else. Additionally, he had a theory about the Hugos that he wanted to test — namely that they were biased, represented the preferences of only one tiny section of the sci-fi/fantasy fandom community, and that authors with the “wrong” political beliefs (meaning politically to the right of Mao and Stalin) who got on the ballot would be attacked, slandered, libeled, made the subject of whisper campaigns, harassed, have Twitter mobs set upon them, have their books given negative reviews, etc etc etc.

Sad Puppies is not about getting Larry himself the Hugo or getting any particular author the award (Sad Puppies 1 actually failed to get Larry nominated at all though it did get some of his preferences listed in other areas). It’s always been about proving that WorldCon is full of crap when they hold themselves out to represent all of fandom, about proving that there is a definite bias that has nothing to do with whether a work is good or not and everything to do with whether or not the author has the right skin color, the right genitalia, and adheres to the proper groupthink. It also has been a test as to whether or not WorldCon is really open to welcoming new members and new writers regardless of their skin’s melanin content, whether their genitals dangle or not, and what their political philosophies are. Based on the current reactions I’d have to say that Correia’s premises have been proven. WorldCon is not open to newbies of any kind who aren’t clones of their current members and the awards are biased to message-fic and it’s pretty clear that the author’s identity is far more important than whether or not their story is well-written and interesting.

So, back in 2013, Larry campaigned on his own behalf throughout January to try to get his own work on the ballot. He was almost successful (missing it by only 17 votes). Overall, there wasn’t much outcry over it and the first effort didn’t have a massive impact. Still, the idea caught on and began to generate buzz which culminated in Sad Puppies 2 which was a Much Bigger Deal and which will be the subject of the next entry in this series so stay tuned!

— G.K.

Sad Puppy image taken from Larry Correia’s site, Monster Hunter Nation

We Didn’t Start the Flamewar — Part Two

We Didn't Start the Flamewar -- Part Two

So, some of you might be wondering exactly how this whole thing got started. I posted a brief-ish history earlier. I’m not going to rehash all of that now. Instead, I’m going to focus on the three most recent events in this culture war. I’m not going to pretend to be completely unbiased in this but I am going to try to be fairly accurate. There is a lot of he-said-she-said to some of it so feel free to check out other summaries. Just be aware that everyone has their own agenda so take it all with a grain of salt (including this one).

The first of the three events to take place was GamerGate. Know Your Meme has a pretty thorough coverage of it so if you’ve got no clue what it is and want a play-by-play, I’d suggest checking it out. The long and short of it is that the whole thing started over a game developer (Zoe Quinn) who cheated on her boyfriend. Her boyfriend posted an expose of it showing that she’d supposedly slept around to try to get good reviews of her game. It morphed from a movement to improve ethics in gaming journalism to a big thing about feminism and gaming in general. The anti-GamerGater side (populated by Social Justice Warriors or SJWs) tends to think that gaming is sexist and that the tech sector is sexist. They think that the way women are depicted in games is sexist and that games should tell a more “socially just” message. The pro-GamerGater side thinks that games are fine and that if the antis don’t like them, they’re free to make their own games and see which sell better. The antis have, so far, managed to get some of the pro-GG groups like the HoneyBadgerBridage (a group of female gamers and game developers) thrown out of conventions because they “made the [antis] feel threatened.”

That’s the level of maturity we’re dealing with. The antis can’t actually argue anything rationally and can’t be bothered to make their own games with their own message. They want to force current gaming companies to make the games they think should be made and force the rest of us to play them whether we want to or not. And, when we say that’s stupid, we’re told we’re threatening them and harassing them and that we’re being sexist. We also get lumped in with the PUAs like Roosh (who isn’t actually a bad guy — I’ve talked with him and he’s nice in person) and some of the really crazy MRAs who do hate women which would be like us lumping the antis in with groups who want to raise all children as girls and kill or force all males to undergo sex reassignment surgery *eyeroll*

The next big event was ShirtStorm. Back in November, the European Space Agency landed the Philae lander on a comet for the first time in human history. One of the guys on the team was wearing a shirt that a female friend had made for him — the shirt was a bowling shirt that depicted comic-hero women with laser guns and tight outfits. He was interviewed briefly (he wasn’t the spokesman for the team or the team lead — the team lead was a woman, in fact). Rose Eveleth, a journalist for The Atlantic, managed to miss the big news item (the historic comet landing) and, in a stereotypically womanish manner, focus in on what the guy was wearing instead. She made a big deal about the shirt that caused the historic comet landing to be forgotten as everyone on Twitter got the vapors over the women on this guy’s shirt. She later claimed she was “doxxed” (meaning her personal information was posted and she was getting harassed at home) but there was absolutely no evidence this happened (whereas there was plenty of evidence that this happened with anti-GamerGate people). I personally spent the better part of four days checking the usual doxxing sites AND the deepnet/Tornet for any trace of it and there was nada. The only way I could dig up her info was to hit up a contact I have who can get that kind of stuff and all I asked that person was if they could get it. Unsurprisingly, the answer was “yes” but that does not mean Rose Eveleth was doxxed any more than it means that oh, say, the Governor General of Canada’s direct line (bypasses switchboard, bypasses secretary, no voicemail, rings through even if phone is turned off) was “doxxed.”*

ShirtStorm managed to die down with most of us women realizing that some women were never going to get the whole science thing because they just couldn’t be rational. I wrote my long series on ShirtStorm and Women In Science (Feminism Is Dead, Why Don’t Women Go Into Science?, Why Don’t Women Go Into Science? Part II, Women In Science Part III: Can We Force More Women to Become NTs?, Women In Science: Can We Create More Female NTs?) and things seemed to go back to their uneasy truce where the minority of us wondered just when the majority of slavering crazed fems were going to find something to go batcrap crazy over again.

The third event is HugoGate or PuppyGate or whatever you want to call it. That really deserves its own entry — which it is going to get. However, I’m going to give it a quick rundown here anyway so here goes. This year was the third year that Sad Puppies ran a list of people they thought should get nominated for the Hugos. The last two years Larry Correia ran Sad Puppies — this year it was Brad Torgersen. Larry started it because he believed that worthy folks were being ignored or left off the ballot due to the authors’ political beliefs. He said that if any right-wing author got nominated, the Powers That Be with WorldCon (the group that owns and organizes the Hugos) would throw a fit of epic proportions. Thus far, he’s been proven right. The first two years, Sad Puppies wasn’t very successful but this year it was. There’s some argument as to why that is the case and I’m still reading up on it myself. However, the end result has been that Larry and Brad (who are really nice guys and good writers) have been slandered, libeled, threatened, and harassed. A lot of other good authors have been harassed as well just because they were nominated by Sad Puppies and some even felt they had to withdraw from being nominated. The PuppyKickers are threatening to vote No Award in every category where there are Sad Puppy candidates (I think) which would prove Larry’s point completely and would prove that the Hugos are pretty much worthless. The PuppyKickers claim that the Sad Puppies are all a bunch of white, sexist men who nominated nothing but white, sexist men even though SP3 consists of women, Latinos, blacks, Asians, gays (I think?), and people of all political backgrounds and nominated writers of all colors, genders, and backgrounds. Also now, according to the PuppyKickers, those of us who are sympathetic to SP are neonazis.

So you can see why some of us are finally getting a bit fed up with this whole thing.

In the next part I’ll do a more in-depth history of Sad Puppies so stay tuned!

— G.K.

*No, it’s not the Governor General and I’m not going to reveal whether or not it’s a government agency I could get access to or who my friend is or how I know them or what but, suffice it to say that just because this person can get their hands on the information does not mean it’s in the wild. This person once had a pepperoni pizza (paid for by an anonymous BitCoin account) sent to a friend of theirs who was in Israel and that friend, to this day, still has no idea who sent them the pizza. And no, my posting this won’t give the game away because that friend has no clue who I am or that I know this mutual contact.

We Didn’t Start the Flamewar — Part One

We Didn't Start the Flamewar -- Part One

But it has been burning for a while. I’m going to briefly (for me) outline the history a bit before diving into the most recent battle fronts in this long-running war.

Yes, I’m talking about the current online flamewar going on in the sci-fi/fantasy world. The latest salvo has been over the Hugos with Irene Gallo calling anyone who thinks Sad Puppies has a point a neo-Nazi (thanks, hon! By the by, I was born Catholic and my grandfather was part of the D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach so I’m just thrilled to be called that) but it’s been simmering since at least the 1980s when the geeks and nerds decided to start building their own worlds and lives where they could do their thing without having to put up with the overculture’s bullshit. We went our own way, did our own thing, and left the rest of the world well enough alone.

Then, of course, the stuff we were doing started to catch attention and the rest of the world wanted in on it. We’re tolerant and magnanimous so we said “sure, c’mon. Join the Internet.” We kept doing our own thing, hanging out on our usenet groups, playing MUDs, building early websites, and just generally chilling. We avoided the screeching harpies, the Ivory Tower Intellectuals, the fashionistas, the HR drones, and the hippy-dippy crowds and kept playing video games, reading sci-fi and fantasy, writing, and just generally adopting an outlook of “let everyone do their own thing and just leave us alone.”

And that was fine for a while. We got to show off how awesome our little worlds could be with epic movies like Lord of the Ring, The Matrix and books like Harry Potter, The Wheel of Time, Mistborn, and video games like World of Warcraft, Diablo III, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda, and more. Still, for the most part, we left the rest of the world alone and the rest of the world left us alone. We kept spinning great stories, kept telling them and retelling them, made awesome networks and used the tech that our fore-geeks had built into companies like Amazon to share our culture. We didn’t really care much what the rest of the world was doing because we were too busy wondering who was going to win the X-Prize, building spaceships and space-faring companies, talking about how we could make money mining Near Earth Asteroids, planning out how we’d get to Mars.

After all, the rest of the world had been telling us what we wanted wasn’t important and didn’t matter. We took them at their word and left them do their thing so long as they left us alone to think up things like how to colonize other planets, whether or not you could genetically engineer dragons so they’d be real, and when the Singularity might happen. In our world, we didn’t much care if you were male or female or some variant therein. We didn’t care if you were homo-, hetero-, bi-, or a-sexual. We didn’t care if you wore jeans, Armani suits, had tattoos and piercings, walked around in your pajamas all day, watched porn or thought that Clark was better than Heinlein. All we really cared about was “is your idea cool? Will it work? Can you prove it?”

We weren’t interested in trying to set up elaborate government programs to ensure that every company, game, book, movie, TV show, poem, or military unit was a perfect representation of the rest of the population. We thought that it was a bit silly to try to force people into jobs based on superficial (or superfluous) traits instead of whether or not they were interested, qualified, and could fit in with the rest of their team. We were willing to listen to arguments that perhaps the overculture discouraged certain people from entering our specialized realms (math, science, tech, and engineering). However, we recognized that interest and personality-type were the main drivers and the intelligence played a role in whether or not a person could get into the STEM fields. After all, if you hate math, you’re hardly going to be a great computer scientist. If physics bores you, a career at CERN is probably out. If you’d rather talk about your feelings, you’re probably not destined for the engineering world and if you think video games are for losers, I doubt you’re going to fit in well in a company like Blizzard or BioWare.

So, for the most part, we didn’t care that our subculture had more men than women. The women (like me) who were part of it had absolutely no real place in the overculture. We didn’t face a lot of sexism in the geek realms — the guys are glad to have us and appreciate the way our minds work. True, they can sometimes say something that results in them suffering a brief bit of foot-in-mouth but then, so can we. We know that guys like to look at attractive women (unless they’re gay in which case it’s attractive men).* For the most part, we don’t care. Their desktops and screensavers don’t bother us so long as the women are mostly clothed. After all, they’re not asking us to dress like that. The superficial doesn’t matter much to us — actions do.

At any rate, things were rocking along just fine until three events happened that showed us that no matter how magnanimous and forgiving we were (after all, we’d sighed and gotten over the September That Never Ended, we’d come to grips with the AOLers and Spammers, we’d learned to filter out the overculture and had even — albeit, with difficulty — forgiven them for cancelling Firefly). The first was #GamerGate. The second was #ShirtStorm. And now the last is the HugoSpat.

We didn’t start the flamewar but, bless your overbearing over-culture hearts guys, we think it’s hilarious when you try to flame people who invented fireproof armor, can calculate the burst damage for the best PVP firemage build, and build flamethrowers for fun.

You’re in our world now and here, we make the rules. That is why folks like Irene Gallo and her brethren are going to lose because — at best — we go back to ignoring you and doing our own thing. At worst, we show the rest of the marginalized in the overculture that they don’t have to put up with your shenanigans either. After all, we’ve already showed the RIAA we don’t need them to help us find great music. We showed the big TV companies that we can damned well do without them. The Big Five are learning that we don’t need them to control the book market.

Do you really want to join them on Ye Olde Dustbin of the Dinosaurs?

— G.K.

*Women aren’t as visually-oriented as men but we do like to look at good looking guys (if we’re straight) or gals (if we’re lesbians). However, rarely are we going to plaster the walls and our computers with fine specimens because we’re wired a bit differently when it comes to what we like to look at and display. *shrugs* Men and women are different and that is a Good Thing(TM).

Other posts like this:

No More Tor

No More Tor

Update: I am aware that Tom Doherty issued a statement and that Irene Gallo (the one whose comment pushed me over the edge) has made a non-apology apology. Her doing that actually makes me angrier because she’s not sorry at all for what she said. She still thinks people like me (and John C. Wright, Jim Butcher, Sarah Hoyt, Cedar Sanderson, and Kevin Anderson) are neo-Nazis. When she can actually admit that maybe being to the right of Mao does not make you Hitler and can actually write a post that accurately describes the entire Sad Puppy phenomenon, I’ll reconsider my stance. Until then, I’m not going to contribute a wooden nickel towards her salary. Also, if Tor fires her, I will make my avoidance of their books permanent because that’s the only thing that could make me angrier — firing someone for their opinions.

I just want an honest-to-Bob real fucking apology and for her to learn to break out of her little bubble of a universe and make some truly diverse friends instead of the token-diversity she has around now.

I’ve intentionally not said anything about Sad Puppies or Hugogate or whatever it’s being called now because, honestly, I don’t pay much attention to awards these days. The Hugo winners have been books I find tedious and not worth the time for about the past ten years so I generally avoid them. I’ve started treating most “award-winning” books that way in recent years because “award-winning” is so often synonymous with “something a limousine liberal in Manhattan [who’s never come down from their fiftieth floor loft and who thinks they’re progressive because they have an Ecuadorean transgendered nanny and their dogwalker is gay] would find interesting when they try to show how avant-garde they are while drinking chai frappélattéchinos with their lily white (and the token black) quote-unquote with airquotes friends.”

And since most of them can’t read beyond a sixth grade level, what they like is going to be something I’ll find puerile — perhaps juvenile, at best — with tortured language that thinks it’s academic and intellectual when it’s really just pretentious, tendentious, and fucking poor diction and a complete abuse of esoteric terminology.

Still, though, I’m sick and tired of being compared to the guy who caused over 70 million deaths in less than seven years just because I think that openness and diversity is a good thing. I think that anyone who likes science fiction and fantasy should be considered a fan and they shouldn’t have to pass any kind of ideological test. I think that an award that touts itself as “THE sci-fi/fantasy award from all fans” should be more open to those fans participating in the nomination and voting. Otherwise, it’s just another crappy award given by another group of CHORFs. I think that the Sad Puppies have proven their point in that the Hugos are meaningless and controlled by the publishers and not the fans.

If the PuppyKickers want to throw a fit because their picks didn’t win this year, that’s fine. If they want to change the way the Hugos are decided, that’s fine. But they need to act like fucking adults instead of kindergartners. Since they can’t do that, I’m going to do the adult thing and not give them my money.

Hey, I wouldn’t give my kindergarten-aged niece a cookie if she’d spent all day acting out — I’m not going to give a company that has its senior staff call me a Nazi my money, either. However, I don’t want the authors who are locked into a shitty contract to think it’s them or their work that has caused me to make this decision. So, I’ve started contacting all Tor’s authors to let them know that it’s not them — it’s their publisher. I started today with Brandon Sanderson who could easily strike out on his own and publish independently (face it, Tor needs him far more than he needs them). The message I sent to him (or to his assistants, rather), is below.

I just wanted to apologize for this. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Sanderson’s work ever since he started writing the Wheel of Time after Mr. Jordan died. When I heard he was going to be finishing the series, I bought the Mistborn trilogy and soon had every book he’s written. However, I won’t be buying (or borrowing or pirating because that’s wrong) his books published through Tor any longer.

Mr. Sanderson hasn’t done anything wrong — I still love his books and wish I had 1/100000000000000th of his talent. He’s not offended me or anything. I just can’t support a company that thinks that my friends and I are as horrible as the man responsible for upwards of 70 million deaths (Adolph Hitler) just because we think that more than a few dozen people should be allowed to decide who wins the Hugos.

If Mr. Sanderson changes publishers or goes indie, I’ll be happy to grab his books again. I love his work. I’m just not going to keep giving money to Irene Gallo and the Neilsen-Haydens so that they can call me and people I like (such as Sarah Hoyt, Larry Corriea, Cedar Sanderson, and Brad Torgersen among others) Nazis just because we’re not to the left of Mao and Stalin politically and think that it’s more fun to read books with great characters and a good plot instead of polemics that we might agree with but that tell us we can’t agree for $stupidreasons_like_kincolor_gender_religion_beingfromtheSouth.

Thanks (and sorry because I know he’s busy and doesn’t want to get dragged in to crap like this just because his publishing house is run by idiots),

G.K. Masterson

If, like me, you’re tired of the chattering classes calling you a Nazi while taking your money and laughing at you, then feel free to stop giving them your money. If you’re planning to avoid Tor, know that they’re owned by MacMillian who owns the following publishing lines:

  • Farrar, Straus and Giroux
    • Faber & Faber
  • Henry Holt and Company
    • Holt Paperbacks
    • Metropolitan Books
    • Times Books
    • Owl Books
  • Palgrave Macmillan
  • Picador
  • Roaring Brook Press
    • Neal Porter Books
    • First Second Books
  • St. Martin’s Press
  • Tom Doherty Associates
    • Tor Books
  • Bedford, Freeman and Worth Publishing Group
    • W.H. Freeman
    • Bedford-St. Martin’s
    • Worth Publishers
  • Hayden-McNeil
  • Nature Publishing Group
    • Scientific American, Inc.

Instead, might I suggest Del Ray Books, Wizards of the Coast, Baen, or indie books? Sure, Del Ray and Baen are owned by other members of the Big Six but so far they’ve managed not to have their spokespeople and senior staff insult anyone to the right of Mao and Stalin.

Just a thought.

— G.K.

More on this:

Another One Goes Up

Another One Goes Up

The latest chapter of The Search for the Seven Scepters is now available for your reading pleasure! So, head over and check it out. Also, remember that you can totally support my writing habit by backing me on Patreon or purchasing a membership subscription here at the site. If I get paid more, I can write more so it’s win-win all the way around!

Go on and get your read on!

— G.K.