Weekend Reading: David Gerrold: Science-Fictional Sad Puppies
...long enough that I am seriously annoyed at the amount of time I've wasted on it, because that time could have been better spent reading a good book. Or even writing one. And I think I've finally hit my ohfuckitall point. Brad Torgersen has made himself the point man in this year's brouhaha--and I have patiently slogged through his endless blogs, his self-serving sideways denials, his squalid victim racket, and his astonishing refusal to recognize that he has committed all the same sins he is now projecting onto others.
That's an old trick--one that has served bullies well for a long time--blame the other side for all the things you're guilty of. A lot of Confederate politicians do that because it confuses those who haven't had time to pay closer attention because they're scrambling to get food on the table from day to day. But here's the real question--and although I doubt I'm going to get an honest answer here, I'm going to ask it anyway--in the long lead-up to all of this, did anybody in the group think about methodology?
If the goal was to honor those who you thought had been overlooked, a recommended reading list, even an enthusiastic endorsement, would have been sufficient. But--as I have said before, there were three mistakes. The first was the slate, the second was the vilification of those they didn't like, and the third was the alliance with Vox Day. In his latest whinge, Brad admits, 'Maybe Vox is terrible.' And then he says, 'But the Marxist politics of unpersoning is much more so.'
First of all--'Maybe Vox is terrible' is such a weaselly piece of evasion that Brad should be embarrassed. The evidence of Vox's stunted humanity comes out of his own mouth. The man's behavior is appalling and 'Maybe Vox is terrible' is an attempt to avoid having to admit that Vox not only is terrible, he's crossed the line of acceptable behavior in this community. To demand that others be tolerant of his hate-mongering is to confuse tolerance with stupidity.
As for that second statement about 'unpersoning,' Brad reveals his own ignorance of history. Unpersoning isn't Marxist. Marx wasn't an activist, he wasn't a leader, he was an economic theoretician with a weird idea. He was the Ayn Rand of his time, postulating an ideology that sounded good, but couldn't work in practice. But he never wrote about unpersoning. The word came from Orwell. Actual unpersoning was something practiced in Stalin's Soviet Union where disgraced political leaders were edited out of photographs.
It helps to know what you're talking about.
It also helps to plan things out better--to consider not only the results you want, but the methodology you will use to get those results. Remember, there are always unintended consequences. But in this case, I don't think the consequences were unintended.
At any point as the puppies headed down that road, did any of them stop to consider that their actions would piss off a lot of people? Based on the evidence of Vox Day's own remarks--pissing people off was as much the goal as anything else. Based on Vox Day's own remarks, his goal was to disrupt the Hugos. And for all the self-serving explanations that sad puppies and rabid puppies are two different groups...
Okay, Vox Day won.
He won round one. He did not win the game.
And that's what we have now an outraged community of fans. What has really been revealed here--and I point to Sasquan selling another 1350 supporting memberships in two days--is the nature of the Worldcon community.
The Worldcon is over 75 years old. It's a tradition. It was created, maintained, honored, and nurtured by generations of fans--most of them volunteering long hours just for the fun of making the Worldcon happen. We can point to the honored members of the SF community to demonstrate the integrity of the convention--Asimov, Heinlein, Sturgeon, Clarke, Silverberg, Pohl, McCaffrey, Willis, and so on--but this discussion is better served by pointing to the thousands and thousands and thousands of fans over the last 75 years who have kept the Worldcon alive as one of the most hallowed traditions of the science fiction community.
Worldcon is the gathering place for all people who love science fiction--not this brand of SF and not that brand of SF, but ALL SF. There's steampunk and space opera and hard science and alternate history, there's gender-fluid and feminist fiction as well. There's science fantasy and humorous SF and Star Trek and Doctor Who and BSG and Firefly and all the other franchises. There are costume fans and masquerade fans and cosplayers. There are hundreds of artists and illustrators who have made the Worldcon art show a cross section of excellence.
And in all the years that Worldcon has existed--there have been arguments about all the different flavors of SF as well--but never before has any group worked so aggressively to deny others their place at the table.
Based on the remarks of various people who have allied themselves with the slate-mongers, one of the goals was to deny award recognition to anyone that the slate-mongers disapproved of.
That's 'unpersoning,' Brad. The denial of opportunity. So for you or anyone to whine about how you've been denied this or that or the other as a justification for even worse behavior--well, to call that disingenuous would be a compliment.
The Hugo award is one of the greatest traditions in this community and the rabid puppies pissed on it, pissed on the community, pissed on the party. The Hugo award means a lot to the science fiction community. And that's a very large community--right now, a very large and very angry community.
There are going to be consequences. The difference is that the community will argue at length, discuss at length, consider at length, weigh the different options, think about what's fair and right and honorable, look for the option that represents the best solution -- all with the intention of protecting the integrity of the award from slate-mongers, while at the same time not restricting anyone's right to participate. I have no idea how this can be accomplished, but I trust the larger community to have a much more thoughtful discussion about how to proceed than was demonstrated by the sad-rabid alliance. See, at the end of the day, here's the thing. I'm an old man. I've got more books behind me than in front of me.
I've seen a half-century of history in this field, some of it good, some worth serious head-scratching. I've seen people make horrendous mistakes. I've seen others rise to the challenge. I've seen this community raise thousands of dollars for good causes and thousands of pints of blood at conventions all over the nation. Fans are accepting and inclusive -- much more so than almost any other group I've ever been a part of. (Yeah, some fans are jerks--but most fans are not.)
But back to that old man thing--I get invited to conventions as a guest and I enjoy going, but I'm well aware that I represent the past--part of the tradition that the community is built on. All these new writers, people whose names I'm still learning, people whose works I'm still discovering--they're the future of this community. And for the most part, it looks like a very exciting future. I hope I live long enough to see some of these new sparks mature into bright stars. I love what they're inventing.
This year--this stuff, this little turd in the punch bowl--the community will survive it. Whatever happens, the Hugo will survive. With an asterisk, perhaps. (Maybe we'll hand out official asterisks with the trophies this year.) But the one thing that is growing more and more likely... the architects of this squabble will have indelibly damaged themselves in the eyes of the SF community. There are invitations and acknowledgments that will never be offered--not because it's a blacklist, but because nobody wants to hang out with assholes.
And if that's 'unpersoning,' then it's self-inflicted.
Whine all you want, Brad. It won't work. I learned it by the time I was five. I never got anything I wanted by whining--so I stopped wasting energy and learned how to work for results the old-fashioned way.
But then, what do I know about any of this? It's always the young turks who know better, right?
Tell me again how Star Trek wasn't about social justice...?