Book Review: Forbidden Thoughts

Book Review: Forbidden Thoughts

If you, like me, have gotten a bit sick and tired of the constant “you must not think this” and “you must never say this” and “never offend anyone anywhere — no matter what” that permeates most of modern sci-fi, you’ve probably been looking for a good bit of satire to help you cleanse your palette. That’s where Forbidden Thoughts comes in.

Frankly, it’s hilarious. This compendium of short stories takes most of the silliness that has taken over our society from the Snowflake Generation and ramps it up to eleven. Anyone who isn’t a devoted member of the TrueFen will love this book. Anyone who is a devoted member of the TrueFen will think that the writers are insane and honestly believe that TrueFen think that unqualified people should be granted highly skilled jobs just to tick off the Diversity Checklist or that mothers should be able to kill their kids up to adolescence. To borrow a favorite saying of His Most Illustrious President, let me be clear — no one thinks that aside from the extreme morons on the far, far, so-far-as-to-almost-have-looped-around-to-the-left Right. However, good satire often does take the most extreme possible view and make mock of it. That’s fine in fiction even when it’d be fallacious in a debate (it’s the Strawman and/or reductio ad absurdum).

At any rate, if you’re looking for something that is funny, satirical, and is a damned good read, then Forbidden Thoughts is the book for you! Four out of five rainbow-farting zebricorns!

— G.K.

Sad Puppies and the Hugos: Category Error

Sad Puppies and the Hugos: Category Error

I keep thinking about this and, honestly, the more I think about it, the more I honestly believe that the real problem is that the problem with modern science fiction awards is that of Category Error. I spoke with a long-time WorldCon attendee Sunday (not sure if he wants to be named here — he can message me on Facebook if he is cool with it) and after talking with him and then reading Eric Flint’s entry today (read it — it’s long but worth it), I think that it may be time to really sit down and ask a few hard questions.

1) Is WorldCon really the best avenue for trying to create the kind of award we’re trying to create? — After reading the by-laws for the convention and for SFWA, I don’t think it is. Both organizations are too unwieldy, too clunky, and have too ossified a structure to respond well to the kind of change that is needed. That’s not a slight against them — it’s just reality. Plenty of conventions and industries (hell — plenty of countries and cultures) are having a hard time keeping pace with the rapid changes that have happened over the past fifty years. Expecting a group of volunteers to master it when they’re used to playing for an audience of less than 10k is asking a bit much.

2) Just what kind of award do we want to create? — Are we really after a fan award? Another jury award? An industry award? I think the germ of the whole compliant has been that the current Hugos have ignored giants in the field in favor of fad-fiction while also shunning certain authors and their works based on the author’s politics — not on merit (which this year has proven is the case with a sizable portion of Hugo voters). The general gist has been that if the Hugos want to call themselves “THE” award of science fiction and fantasy, then they need to pay more attention to the market behavior, to the influential players in the field, and they need to increase the size of the voting pool so that it can’t be swayed by a few dozen people. Otherwise, they need to stop advertising themselves as being “THE” award and instead relabel themselves more accurately as “an award given out by a few thousand people.”

3) How can the convention structure be made less privileged? — Look, I know most of you don’t get it. I’ve never been to a single convention that my former employer didn’t pay me to go to because I can’t afford the plane ticket and hotel room to go to one. The mere fact that you can a) take the time off work to go, b) have the money to get a hotel room, c) can afford to eat out while there, d) can afford the plane ticket or gas to fly/drive there and back e) can afford the cost of admission + panels + whatever else puts you so far out of my league it’s not even funny. Even when I’ve been able to get over my mild agoraphobia and really wanted to go to a con, the cost of taking off work and going put beyond me. And it does for most everyone in my area. I doubt seriously that WorldCon (or any other current literary con) could do livestream attendance the way that BlizzCon or does. Part of it is the money/tech/knowledge issue and part of it is that I doubt very seriously there’s much love lost either way between the fans in places like Delta and Appalachia and the officers/board members of the conventions.

4) How can the voting pool be increased beyond the ability for any one group to game it? — We’re talking big numbers here. At least 20k. Better would be a voting pool of at least 50 – 100k. Again, just given the behavior shown at the Hugo awards ceremony and the kind of negative connotation WorldCon has given itself with the general population. There’s a reason why WorldCon attendance has been trending down even as science fiction and fantasy became more accepted and it’s because enough of the “TrueFans” gave it a bad reputation so that people avoided it instead of attending it or considering it. Would WorldCon ever consider even trying to get someone like writer Robert Kirkman to run a panel? Or be a GoH? Could they even get someone like Chuck Lorre to return a phone call these days? I mean, sure, GRRM comes but could they get Peter Jackson? Or forget Peter Jackson, could they get Jeri Taylor or even Kip Thorne?

No one outside of Tor (and most of the people inside probably don’t either) gives a rat’s ass about either of the Neilsen-Haydens but they’re the GoH’s for next year and they hate people like me so yeah, I’m feelin’ the love and welcome. But if a convention could get, say…Norman Reedus, Jeri Ryan, Orlando Bloom, Stephanie Meyer, Peter Dinklage, and J.K. Rowling together while hosting a Red Pill/Blue Pill contest and playing Spot the Fed during the Zombie Apocalypse, well…

That would be a con that would have Fort Knox asking to loan it some money.

4a) How can that be done without homogenizing everything? — And now we’re into the Category Error part of the problem. Science fiction isn’t a simple little niche anymore. It’s become its own genre, much like romance or horror. Could you imagine a single convention or award that tried to compare the works of R.L. Stine to that of Mary Shelley? Science fiction and fantasy are huge. You can’t compare some aspects of them to others because it’s like comparing apples to zebras — and that’s exactly what the Hugos wind up doing. You can’t just add one more category (series) and fix the problem, either. No, the issue runs much deeper than that in that the foundation upon which WorldCon and the Hugos were built is no longer large enough to support the modern sci-fi/fantasy reality.

So, what to do? Raze it (Vox Day’s option?) Slink off and exile ourselves, never writing again and let people who support pedophiles and child rape (Tor — hey, sauce for the goose. I’ll see your Vox Day and raise you Marion Zimmer Bradely) give themselves accolades while everyone else praises them?

Instead of razing it, leave it be and build something better. Build a modern convention that starts out with a massive tent. Have elements from Comic Con, Walker Stalker, BlizzCon, DefCon (that’s a techie con for you non-hackers out there. It’s awesomesauce), and all the other fun cons out there. Mix and match. Don’t make it a pure literary con. Have it be a real celebration of all that is great about being a geek or a nerd. Let the Twilighters in with their Team Edwards and Team Jacobs. Hell, we had Team Sturm and Team Tanis back in the day (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then go get every book that has “Dragonlance(TM)” on it and start reading). Some of us even had Team Hugh and Team Haplo (if you want really obscure).

Twilight might be drek but at least it has people reading. We all started somewhere. I started with Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dragonlance, the Death Gate Cycle, and writing the Legend of Zelda fanfic set around the game and the cartoon series when I was in elementary school.

And the awards? Well, how about this? (Just to get the convo rolling — don’t consider it a finalized thing. More a “outline I’ve worked out that probably needs some tweaking”)

I know the constellations are probably taken (and the Constellations themselves are an actual award) but imagine something like this:

The Aries — best military work (red for sci-fi, blue for fantasy)
The Aquarius — best literary work (red for sci-fi, blue for fantasy)
The Capricorn — best hard science fiction (red) or epic fantasy (blue)
The Gemini — best young adult work (red for sci-fi, blue for fantasy)
The Leo — best space opera (red) or swords-and-sorcery (blue) work
The Libra — best dystopian (red) urban fantasy (blue) work
The Sagittarius — best speculative work (red for sci-fi, blue for fantasy)
The Scorpio — best pure-superhero work (for superhero works that cannot be classed anywhere else)
The Taurus — best post-apocalyptic (red) or dark fantasy (blue) work
The Virgo — life-time achievement award
The Ophiuchus — historic recognition award

Each award has seven categories: written series, novel, novella, short story, editor-in-field, artist, and licensed work, with there being three possible additional categories: television show, film, video game. So, there would be an Aries for the best military sci-fi series, stand-alone novel, novella, short-story, editor-in-field, artist, and then licensed work in that field (such as something from Star Wars or Star Trek).

Nominations would run from, say, October 1 to January 30. Then the top fifteen for each award and category (the nominations receiving the most votes) would be put on the ballot. A jury would be selected for each award/category consisting of at least 10k people from the membership chosen randomly. They would be sent the entire packet to read and would be given a test to prove that they had read and understood the books or films or shows. Then they would be sent the ballot and allowed to vote. The top five (the five receiving the highest number of votes in each 10k voting pool) go on the final ballot for selection at the convention itself. At the convention, it’s straight up the most votes wins with “no award” requiring unanimity or the voting pool to dip below 5k.

Not a perfect system, I know. According to my man Ken Arrow, a perfect ranking system is impossible. However, with two steps of popular votes and a randomly selected jury pool with an enforced reading test (or no ballot issued and another juror chosen instead), it’s much harder to game this kind of system. There’s also less incentive for SJWs to want to do so since they’ll have the Aquarius all to themselves. And, if they do try to overrun the rest of the categories, we send them back to their little sandbox where everything is rubberfoamed and inoffensive and they can have their skin-deep diversity without any diversity of ideas and the little dears can’t hurt themselves or encounter a difficult thought/word/feeling or be triggered while the grown-ups can talk about grown-up things in all of the other categories.

Except for the Gemini, of course. Because “young adults” aren’t SJWs but aren’t grown-up, yo.

— G.K.

Throwback Thursday: A Cold War Vocabulary Lesson

I was scanning around for a topic to write about this Thursday and wondering if I was going to do something historical like “how to make daggers” or “the first fanfic G ever wrote” when the most Evil of Space Princesses posted this on her blog.


Really? Seriously? This level of ignorance is the product of an advanced educational system?

Suddenly, I knew what today’s entry had to be about. So, let’s all hop in our time machines — be they TARDISes, telephone booths, funky-looking steampunk chairs, or DeLoreans — and set the dial for August 27, 1980. We’ll avoid my neck of the woods since this trip puts me in my own time-line (I’ll be 24 hours old) and instead go hang out someplace cool. I’ll supply the chameleon circuits so we can waltz into the HQ of USPACOM without being noticed. Just remember — don’t muck about.

Things seem kinda tense, don’t they? Hear that chatter from EUCOM over in Stuttgart, Germany? And the calls from RDJTF — which will soon become CENTCOM — about the problems in Iran?

Oh, man, if only the poor bastards knew…

Notice how all the focus is on Europe and the Pacific, though? Now, guys, I know it’s been a while. Keep listening. Yep. There it is. I notice some of you look a little confused. West Germany? East Germany? What the hell?


Back during the 1980s, I often wondered where North and South Germany were. My excuse was that I was under the age of ten. I’m uncertain what someone who was born in 1969 would have to offer as a similar excuse for such breath-taking ignorance.

It’s 1980. The Cold War is still on, guys. There’s still a USSR in this time with missiles pointed at the US. There are tanks all over the Eastern Bloc nations. We have our own bases and our own forces in Europe to keep the Warsaw Pact from invading. NATO is a big deal instead of the joke we all know it will become. Article V of the NATO Charter is the life-line that Western Europe has clung to and the reason our boys are still there even though the Nazis were defeated well-nigh on forty years ago. It’s also the reason we have bases in Japan and the Japanese are praying we’ll keep the Chicoms from invading them and the Taiwanese (the Republic of China) is counting on us to help them keep the Chicoms from crossing the Strait and subjecting them to the good Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward that left millions dead.

Chicom? I see some of you looking confused again. Chinese Communist. It means “a person who is loyal to the People’s Republic of China — a communist government that uses repressive means including (but not limited to) censorship, state control of the media, re-education camps, imprisonment, torture, secret police, internal and interior-focused spy organizations, centralized control of the food supply, and centralized control of the economy in order to completely dominate the people it governs.” The PRC at this time does not allow people to practice religion, the press to report anything unfavorable to the government or to the Communist ideology, or the people to communicate freely with citizens of other countries. Chicoms are, by and large, ethnically Chinese but may also be Caucasian, Russian, Serbian, Arabian, Persian, Iberian, Hispanic, Chicano, Latino, African, Korean, Japanese, Amerindian, Indian, Vietnamese, or any other ethnic group or sub-group. Their primary identity is their loyalty to a political body — the PRC.


And, like these guys, they’ll kneel to whoever orders them. Unfortunately, there are no real-world Captain Americas, Thors, and Tony Starks to save them and those who wind up as collateral damage from their own raging stupidity.

They were not good guys. They were not sweet, cuddly kittens. They were brutal, murderous, power-hungry asshats who enriched themselves at the expense of their people. They gorged themselves on power and wealth while the average Chinese citizen went hungry. Their so-called noble ideology (which doesn’t scale at all beyond devoted communities such as monasteries where there are methods of population control and a larger community that isn’t bound by that ideology to support them — just look at places like Mount Atheos) led to the deaths of tens of millions of people.

Calling them “Chicoms” isn’t an insult. It isn’t a racial or ethnic slur. Anyone who thinks that is either 1) too young to have lived through the Cold War at all, 2) too stupid to use Google and therefore too stupid to be referenced as an expert on anything, 3) looking for a reason to be offended, or 4) some combo of the above.


Brought to you by…someone educated by hard-working teachers in the Poorest State in the Union™.

So, there go you. A new vocabulary word for you! Now, let’s go back to 2015. I need to see a man about a flying car…

— G.K.

MRSA and Marx — the Hugo Aftermath

MRSA and Marx -- the Hugo Aftermath

Sorry for the silence last week. My friend and business partner Vic, the founder and majority owner of Rooster and Pig, had a stroke back at the end of July which means that I’ve been stuck with the fun of formatting all the books slated to go out now as well as handling all of the Q2 reports, trying to get the royalties and the staff paid, and trying to port the company to a new website since we’ve long since outgrown the system we’re on. Vic is handling all of this with his usual inability to chill the hell out and let someone else worry about everything so those of us who are his not-real-but-kind-of-really-real family get the fun of dealing with him both IRL and via the Internet.

Vic’s one of my buddies. He’s been there for me when no one else was. He knows that I’m quirky and weird and that, on some political issues, he and I are complete opposites (I want a government too powerless to do much of anything; he doesn’t). End of the day, we’re friends and I’d do anything for him. Race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, veteran status, the kind of books we read and write — none of that matters because he’s my friend.

And, by the way — he’s a gay, black, Messianic Jewish Iraqi era veteran who reads and writes a lot of gay erotica. Hell, I’ve edited some of it and spent hours wondering “can you actually do that though? I mean, wouldn’t it hurt if it got bent and twisted around like that?” Which is why he and I always have a little chuckle when folks like John Scalzi, PNH, TNH, and more say that I must be racist and homophobic. It’d be kind of difficult for me to be in business with someone like Vic if that were true.

But then, truth matters little to these people. They’re impervious to it the same way that MRSA is impervious to penicillin. All of the women writers in the Sad Puppies group (and there are a lot of us) could stand up naked to prove our womanhood and we’d still be told we were men. I can go hang out with my lesbian sister or my gay business partner and I’m still a homophobe (and a racist). We can gather all of the black, Asian, Indian (subcontinental), Native American, Middle Eastern, Latin, Hispanic, and Chicano authors we can find (not to mention a few of us who are from areas that are actually so poverty-stricken that they’re routinely cited as “one of the most poverty-stricken places in the United States”) and none of that will matter. We can writer stories involving women (have done), gay characters (have done), minorities (check), overcoming great odds (CHECK), and very long-lasting and their actions here in the immediate aftermath are doing a lot more to discredit their side than the Sad Puppies ever could.

So, the question becomes: can WorldCon and the Hugos be salvaged? At this point, it’s debatable. Sarah Hoyt, Kate Paulk, and others intend to try next year with SP4 and I’m volunteering to help out. Maybe if we show them an effort led completely by women that will be savaged by men, it might just cause enough cognitive dissonance to wake a few people up. That said, I’m not going to put all my eggs in that basket because, like the Eloi, I don’t think the Hugos are going to last that long. I think that at this, the first real show of resistance on the part of the over-arching geek culture, WorldCon is just going to whither away and die. Sarah, Kate, et al are trying to save it but me, after seeing the way the Puppy Kickers acted this year and behaved at the awards ceremony?

Fuck that shit. Let the fucker burn and sow the earth it was on with salt. I’m going to help out with SP4 in hopes of convincing them to consider launching a parallel convention system that would actually bring in the rest of the fandom that WorldCon shuts out. You know — the comic geeks, the gamers, the Trekkies, the dabblers, the people who got into sci-fi from something that the CHORFs think is “lame,” (like The Walking Dead or Twilight) — the folks who are keeping the geek culture going with new ideas, new stories, new mediums, and more. Those who could care less about politics and who want a convention that is fun and welcomes them instead of telling them they’re WrongFans having WrongFun.

Martin told us to set up our own award. Well, why the hell not? And why not make the voting pool so massive it can’t be gamed, make the thing so open it’s financially solvent, and make it an actual stamp worth having on your book cover. The Hugo used to be that way — back when WorldCon wanted to have a larger audience. Obviously, they don’t want that anymore so screw ’em. Let the Hugos become exactly what the WorldConners want it to be — an award given to old, white Marxists by other old, white Marxists for books written for the enjoyment of other aging, white Marxists. Meanwhile, we work on making something where anyone can win it — not just the Toads at Tor who think anyone who lives outside of the Coastal Enclaves should be subject to summary execution for “lack of diversity.”

Imagine a con that embraces the audiences of Comic Con, BlizzCon, GamesCon, DefCon, and LibertyCon instead of a con like WorldCon that says hangs a sign on the door and says “Non-Marxists Need Not Apply.” Which one would you go to? And more importantly — which one would you take your children to (because the future belongs to those who bother to reproduce, yo).

— G.K.

The State of Fandom and the Hugos: Category Error

The State of Fandom and the Hugos: Category Error

I mentioned this monster post in a comment at Sarah Hoyt’s this weekend. Here it is. Grab something to drink because this one’s a doozy, mes amis.

So, the Hugo voting period ended and the winners will be announced soon. There’s been the predictable resurgence in Puppy-related topics recently with the mainstream press parroting the press releases from Tor et alia to the effect that the Puppies and those of us who think they have a point are evil, racist, sexist, homophobic, hateful people who want to build new Dachaus and gulags in order to ensure that only white heterosexual men can own property while the rest of the world is enslaved to them. Those of us who know better, of course, just roll our eyes and wonder why we’re always the ones being accused of planning to build the concentration camps and gulags while the ideologues the Puppy-kickers uphold as being morally superior seem to be the ones who manage to actually have such things turn up in their back yards.

…but I digress.

For decades, there have been award ceremonies that attempt to showcase “the best” works in a genre. The Hugos, once upon a time, (arguably) were the premiere award for science fiction works. However, back in the days when the Hugo was a worthwhile award, the voting pool for the award was much larger, making it much less susceptible to industry or pool capture. WorldCon attendance would have been much higher as well and overall membership (even non-attending) would have been higher. But, over time, the publishing industry captured WorldCon and the Hugos which turned them from a fan award into a marketing stunt.

Don’t get me wrong — the bylaws and the rules are clear. No, what happened is very subtle. It probably started back in the late 1970s to mid 1980s at the earliest, early 1990s at the latest. The houses themselves were being taken over by liberal art majors who, having grown up steeped in the mythos of “the men who took down Nixon,” came into the publishing world with the same zeal to change the world instead of to help find great stories that people wanted to buy. Factor in the rage many of them had felt throughout the 1980s over Reagan’s cowboy diplomacy, his Brandenburg Gate speech where he had the audacity to demand that the morally superior USSR tear down the Berlin Wall, the cognitive dissonance that they felt when the Eastern Bloc collapsed and the USSR voted itself out of existence…and these were hammers desperately in search of a nail. The publishing world was just that nail.

They honed in on science fiction and fantasy specifically because it was future-oriented. Also, because it didn’t require a lot of experience in scholarship or other fields already (try getting into biographies or academic publishing with just a degree in English). Ideologically, they’d already begun taking over a lot of other places — schools, colleges, the art world, film, television, music — so publishing was just the next step.

Now, this wasn’t some organized take over with a great conspiracy where a secret cabal issued diktats — I’m not a tin-foil hatter. It was a long-term underlying trend that was baked into socialism and progressive philosophy.

So, once they’d gotten into the top spots of the big houses like Tor and the fantasy/sci-fi imprints of the other big six, they started making it difficult for anyone outside of their social circles to work there which slowly ensured that agents pushing authors whose politics differed would go nowhere. The stories became homogenized as well, following a set formula with characters that were uniform, uni-dimensional, predictable, and uninteresting. Readers revolted and stopped attending the conventions. But the publishers kept going to the conventions and kept sending their star authors (which dragged out some fans) which led to…the conventions being captured.

Which is what happened to WorldCon and the Hugos. The Hugos aren’t a fan award these days. They haven’t been for the better part of nearly thirty years now. They’re a publisher award because it’s been the publishers who were controlling the voter pool because the voter pool was less than 1000 people. Of course they were in political lockstep and of course they were pissed off when Correia and the rest of us Puppies came in and proved it.

But now on to the real problem. That’s right everyone — 700 words to get to the point of the post. We’ve been accused of destroying the Hugos and we’ve accused the others of destroying them. However, the real problem is CATEGORY ERROR — we’ve never really defined what the problem is. Oh, we think we have. We’ve intuitively got a grasp of what it is. We agree that there is a problem. But have we defined it? No. Not so much.


Category Error — having stated or defined a problem so poorly that it becomes impossible to solve that problem, through dialectic or any other means. Also, not quite as cool as Loki’s Wager but still a good excuse to run a graphic with Tom Hiddleston, yo

So, what is the actual problem? The actual problem is that what the Hugos were created to recognize no longer exists. Back when the Hugos and WorldCon first started, an avid reader could go through every sci-fi book published in a year. But these days, “science fiction” is a massive genre that has spawned dozens of child/sub genres. It’s the same story in the fantasy world. And the publishers and the folks who captured the Hugos over the past few decades represent a tiny sliver of the fanbase and readership — the sliver that aspire more towards the once academic, avant-garde literary-chic style of writing. This group is also incredibly active and activist which is why they have a tendency to take over many other conventions and force out groups they dislike (which is why the Honey Badger Brigade got shut out and nearly arrested for showing up at Calgary Comic Con).

The WorldCon/Hugo by-laws make it very difficult to change and recognize the new reality and…well…doing so would cost the publishers and the lit-chic folks their powerbase. Therefore, if those of us on the Puppy-side want to really fix this and have an award that is meaningful, durable, not subject to capture by one group or another, and represents the best works without showing the divide between works that sell well and works that win awards that the Hugos have shown in recent years, then we have our work cut out for us. The first thing we have to do is actually start defining stuff. I’ll expand on this further in later entries but for now, here are some of the child-genres I’ve noticed in science fiction and fantasy that we should consider:

Science Fiction:
Space Opera
Dystopian
Cyber
Military
Zombie Apocalypse
Superhero
Hard sci-fi
-Physics
-Chemistry
-Biology
-Astronomy
-Space Exploration
Post-Apocalyptic
Medical
Literary
Expanded Canon
-Star Trek novels
-Star Wars novels
-Halo book
-StarCraft books
-Halflife books
-Dune novels
-Doctor Who novles
-The X-Files books
-Batman comics
-Marvel: The Avengers comics

Fantasy:
High Fantasy
Epic Fantasy
Swords-and-Sorcery
Nordic
Shamanistic
Native American
Medieval
Urban
Dark
Surreal
Dystopian
Superhero
Romance
Literary
Expanded Canon
-Warcraft novels
-World of Warcraft novels
-Diablo novels
-Legend of Zelda comics
-Thor: The Dark World comics
-Doctor Who novels

Look, the simple fact of the matter is that our genres are growing and this is a good thing. We need to define the child/sub genres and start expanding awards to include them. And, we may need to give up on the idea of there ever being a single “best science fiction for the year” award ever again. It’s become a bit like trying to decide which vehicle is the best for a given year these days. Yes, some are objectively better than others but when you’ve got so many doing so many different things… it’s difficult to say “this is the best OVERALL” without actually defining what in the name of Issac Asimov you’re talking about.

Category error, guys. Let’s start fixing it, shall we?

— G.K.

Sad Puppies: Why I Don’t Do Cons

Sad Puppies: Why I Don't Do Cons

First, allow me to fangirl a little bit. Cedar just added me on G+ so I’m kind of doing this right now:

But then I started reading Sarah’s entry from today which led me to reading Vonda McIntyre’s entry which has led to a round of head-scratching, several cigarette breaks, a few consultations of Wikipedia’s entry on Arrow’s impossibility theorem, a lengthy session back on Khan Academy which involved a lot of swearing at parabolas (which seems to be the only aspect of algebra II I’m doomed to fail), and the realization that I’ve got a 2:30 appointment so I need to wrap this up already.

People: shit like this is why I don’t do cons. Okay, I went to BlizzCon (twice). I went to the WWI when it was in Paris. But for all of those — I worked for Blizzard and I was at the convention working. I’ve never been to E3, Gamescom, DreamHack, GenCon, IndyCon, any of the ComicCons, WorldCon, or WalkerStalker Con. I had wanted to go to LibertyCon this year but did not have the money. I may go next year if I can scrape together the funds and if work permits but that will probably be the only convention I’ll go to.

Why? Several reasons.

1) I hate traveling. Flying anywhere is a hassle. It’s expensive. Hotels are insanely overpriced and the food is crap (the Internet is generally shitty, too). Driving is a little better but the price of gas is insane.

2) So. Many. People. And you have to talk to them and you can’t hide from them.

3) Where there are a lot of people, there’s going to be a lot of noise. If I want a migraine, there are cheaper and more efficient methods to give myself one.

4) It’s become pretty clear that the people running these conventions don’t like people like me. If you think that the Sad Puppies had a point (that the Hugos were being given out based on the author’s politics and were going to sermon-fics that delivered a particular sermon instead of to stories/books that were well-written or told interesting stories with interesting characters regardless of the author’s politics), then you’re clearly not welcome at these conventions. At best, you’ll be just asked not to show up (and maybe made to feel like an unperson the way Johnathon Ross was). At worst — you get forced out for no reason with baseless and false (and malignant) allegations lodged against you (as happened against the Honey Badger Brigade). Being a minority, a woman, a lesbian, a non-American, or even all of the above does not protect you from this. You could be an African-born male-to-female transgendered post-operative black lesbian Rwandan socialist Muslim and if you happen to think “hey, Larry Correia had a point,” you might as well be a WASP man for all the good it will do you if you try to turn up at a con.

5) It’s actually getting borderline dangerous for those of us who don’t toe the SJW “Brianna Wu is our Goddessa and we shall sucketh Scalzi’s cocketh, Massa” line to live, let alone show up at cons. I really don’t want to get arrested, SWATTed, or have my car run off the road and die on the side of the highway.

So, I avoid them. I mean, why bother? The panels are just going to be about how people like me are evil, how stories I like are stupid, how I and my whole family should be killed, etc, etc, etc. It’s nothing I didn’t hear in the grievance-mongering circles at college. I’m not going to piss thousands of dollars away just to hear it while surrounded by cosplayers.

Still, it gets on my nerves. That one side or the other needs protection from the other. How about we all do the sensible thing and talk about the giant elephant in the room? The SJWs are crazy, they’ve got no problem with violence as a means to an end, they’ve got no problem with wishing death/torture/pain/rape/whatever on their political or philosophical opposition. It’s illogical to put yourself anywhere near them or in any place where they control ingress and egress or security. Not because they’ll kill you outright (they’re crazy, not stupid) but because they can make your life a living hell. Once you’re where they control the security systems, they can chose what the police see (and don’t see). They don’t need to win their cases in a court of law, people — for some things, the mere accusation is enough.

And you really want to go to where they’re going to be? Shit, I avoid being in the same ZIP code as them if I can. So long as I’m out in the middle of Bumfuck Nowhere, Landmassia — and can prove I’m there — they can’t accuse me of doing jack to them.

So again — do you really want to go to WorldCon and give them the chance to accuse you of theft, harassment, rape, murder, human trafficking, drug trafficking, or whatever else they come up with? Or do you want to do the sensible thing and stay at least three ZIP Codes and a time zone away from any SJW/CHORF whenever possible?

— G.K.

PS — If you must go, here’s a list of criminal defense attorneys in Spokane, WA. And, if you are going, add me on Facebook or Twitter and let me know. We can exchange contact info and I’ll volunteer to be your “one phone call” if you do get arrested on trumped-up BS charges.

We Didn’t Start The Flamewar — Part Five

We Didn't Start The Flamewar -- Part Five

*twirls drumsticks and adjusts shades before singing*

George R. R. Martin, Guardian, Stats ‘n’ lies, Twittermobbing, Puppycide
Torgersen, NoTruFenThenDom, Noah Warding Bloc

*chorus repeats*

I told you, the lyrics are the most difficult part of the post! If you don’t like ’em, find me a songwriter who can come up with better ones and I will be happy to turn that part of this series over to them because I fail at songing almost as hard as I fail at adulting.

So, on to part the fifth of this series wherein we will delve into the first part of Sad Puppies 3 (which is going to be a multi-part year since it is A Very Big Deal). As mentioned in my earlier entries, Sad Puppies 1 and 2 were “organized” (and I use that term loosely) by Larry Correia. Once again, to recap, the goal of Sad Puppies was to prove the following points:

1. The Hugo awards were politically biased, and dominated by a few insider cliques.
2. Authors who didn’t belong to these groups or failed to appease them politically were shunned. If authors with “unapproved” politics were to get nominations, the quality of the work would be irrelevant, and the insider cliques would do everything in their power to sabotage that person.

It would seem that, in light of this year’s events, Correia’s hypotheses have been proven, would it not?

At any rate, Sad Puppies 3 saw the mantle of organizing being passed from Correia to Brad Torgersen. Larry Correia considered the controversy that SP2 had raised sufficient to prove his point and was ready to call it quits. However, Torgersen believed that the Hugos could be salvaged and that by increasing awareness and continuing the work Correia had started, only this time by expanding the list to include more authors and to move away from ideology as the selection criteria and instead to go solely on the basis of “is it good or not?” with the discard qualification being message-fic/preach-fic (meaning that SP3 didn’t care a whit what an author’s politics were or what the story was about so long as it was good and wasn’t an anti-human sermon-fic in the SJW tradition). SP3 saw a huge increase in participation both among authors and among the public. However, as it turns out, much of the success was due to Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies campaign which will be covered in depth in a future entry.

The success of the puppy slate took everyone by surprise. However, when the Nielsen-Haydens knew days ahead of the official announcements that “their” people hadn’t made the ballots and the butthurt from Scalzi and the insider crowds started, complete with a libel-laden article that made its rounds through the mainstream media (with its layers and layers of fact-checkers, yo). The SJWs weren’t content to chalk it up to simple mathematics, no. After all, the WorldCon memberbase had been dwindling for years with the Hugo voting pool growing smaller and smaller, making it much easier for smaller numbers of people to skew the results. There’s probably some mathematical name for this phenomenon but I don’t know it so I’m going to call this the “Kiddie Pool Phenomenon.”

Now, most of us, when we were growing up, learned that, in popularity contests, victory often goes to those who show up. SP2 and the resultant fall-out established a strong case for the Hugos being little more than a popularity contest among the WorldCon membership and not “the” definitive award of great science fiction and fantasy literature as they purported themselves to be. Nathaniel Givens’s data analysis shows that there is a reason to believe that there has been a divergence between what the reading public considers “good literature” and what Hugo voters consider “good.” What happened with SP3 is that the two puppy groups managed to have a lot more people “turn up” than they (or anyone else) was expecting.

One would think that the WorldCon crowd, though a bit surprised and maybe a little upset that their favorites didn’t make it that year, would be thrilled to see their convention growing and perhaps on the cusp of flourishing again, right? After all, the SP3 slate consisted of a lot of truly diverse authors including several Latino and Latina writers, many women, people of high melanin content, people of LBGTedness, and probably a few demi-elven-dwarven-dragon-half-vampire-werewolf-Sith-Jedi-wizards of non-indeterminate gender born under a new full moon in comparison to the lily-white slate offered by the SJWs themselves in previous years.

The success of SP3 kicked everything into high gear but isn’t due solely to SP and Torgersen’s efforts. So, we’ll talk about Vox Day and Rabid Puppies and their role in this in the next entry in this series so stay tune!

— G.K.

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. Tor.com 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 Tor.com 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.