Peace on Mars, Good Will Toward Puppies

Mr. George RR Martin expresses hope that the coming Hugo season will not be characterized by rancor:

So in the spirit of the season, I am going to say something nice about the Sad Puppies….

Last year’s Puppygate was an ugly affair. I am not going to rehash it here. My views are all on record, my original blog posts still up for anyone who wants to go back and read them. The last thing I want… the last thing anyone who truly loves science fiction, fantasy, and fandom would want… would be to have to go through the whole thing again in 2016. Whatever your view of how the Hugo Awards turned out at Sasquan, I think we can all agree that we would like MidAmericon II’s awards to be more joyful, less rancorous, less controversial.

And maybe… just maybe… we’ll get our wish. Call me naive. Call me an innocent. Call me too trusting by half, too nice a guy to see how things really are… but, really, I am starting to have some hope. All over the internet, people are already talking about the Hugo Awards, making recommendations, discussing the work… the WORK, the things we love, the stuff that unites us instead of the stuff that divides us.

I’ve been trying to do my part, here on my Not A Blog, and will continue to do so. Over at FILE 770, similar discussions are taking place. And on many other websites, blogs, and bulletin boards as well… including Sad Puppies 4.

Yes, the Sad Puppies are doing it again. ((No big secret, that was announced even before worldcon)). Discussions of possible nominations in all Hugo categories can be found on their SP4 site here: http://sadpuppies4.org/sp4-recommendations-pages-and-faq/ Go check it out. You can even join in. So far as I can tell, you don’t need to be a Puppy to recommend.

As of a few minutes ago, there were 159 ‘thoughts’ in the Best Novel section, which suggests a healthy level of participation. And, I am pleased to say, almost all of what follows seems to be honest and enthusiastic discussion of the work. I am seeing very little name-calling compared to what we saw in Sad Puppies 3, a dearth of references to CHORFS and ASPs and Puppy-kickers and that perennial favorite, SJWs. I am not seeing any “nominate this, it will make their heads explode” posts that we saw so often last year.

Instead, people are recommending books. A very wide range of books. Sure, new works by familiar Puppy favorites like Larry Correia, Mike Williamson, and John C. Wright are being recommended (no surprise there)… but so are works by Neal Stephenson, James S.A. Corey, Naomi Novik, Victor Milan, Terry Pratchett, S.M. Stirling, Ian Tregillis, Ernie Cline, Elizabeth Bear, Gene Wolfe, Michael Moorcock, Orson Scott Card, Greg Bear, Kate Elliott, and many others… including the latest Marko Kloos, and… wonder of wonder… novels from N.K. Jemisin and Anne Leckie!

There are some really good names on that list. Some really good books. (And many I have not read yet, but will look up now). And there’s an amazing range of literary styles, subgenres, and… yes… political and religious views. And all this is to the good.

(Similar discussions are taking place on Sad Puppies 4 for the other categories, though Best Novel has the most participation).

For decades now, LOCUS and NESFA and other fan groups have produced reading lists at year’s end, long lists generated by recommendations from their editors/ members/ etc. If at the end of this process, Sad Puppies 4 puts forth a similar list, one that has room for BOTH Larry Correia and Anne Leckie, I don’t think anyone could possibly object. I won’t, certainly. A list like that would not be a slate, and the whole “slate voting” thing will become moot.

And that would be great. That would mean no Puppygate II. That would mean a spirited literary debate about writers and books without the acrimony and the name-calling…”

Mr. Martin wills the ends without willing the means. He wishes for a cessation of enmity but does not identify who caused it and why, nor does he offer any apology or concession. Perhaps he is merely wishing for the status quo ante. Perhaps he regards his role in the matter as an entirely innocent one.

Be that as it may, honor demands a courteous response to a courteous overture.

In precisely the same spirit that animates Mr. Martin, who is one of the best selling and most respected names in our field, I too express the wish that those tempted by acrimony will resist of that temptation, and conduct themselves with maturity, courtesy, professionalism, Christian charity toward even enemies, and with good will to all.

Like him, I have no objection, as he puts it, to a recommended reading list containing both Larry Correia and Anne Leckie. In our field, more than any other literature, there is room for a width of opinions and a depth of imagination. Uniformity of thought ill becomes us.

Like him, I desire peace and hope for a curtailment of rancor, and I urge all loyal puppies and lovers of science fiction to do likewise.

He and I are agreed as to ends sought. By what means shall we pursue this laudable goal?

The issue at debate dividing his camp from mine is the question of whether the Hugo Award will represent what the award claims to represent, that is, the best works of fantasy and science fiction for the year, as judged on the merit of the work; or whether, instead, the Hugo Award falsely and facetiously will be used as a political vehicle or propaganda tool secretly to promote an agenda of morbid, subversive, and idiotic Cultural Marxist talking points, so that therefore only pretentious, jejune and ineptly wrought bilgewater, void alike of scientific speculation or sound craftsmanship, be given the award.

The second group is a parasite on the first. Its sole purpose rests on expropriating the glory and reputation the award in times past painfully and honestly earned in the public esteem, and expending this stored capital profligately on unworthy objects to give them an outward momentary appearance of worth.

For example, the parasites seek to elevate REDSHIRTS to the stature of DUNE by an outward show of praise without the book being as praiseworthy. However, according to the inevitable rules governing such counterfeits, as soon as the public opinion grows aware of the inflation and adjusts its estimates accordingly, the parasites fail, and the original host fails with them.

In this case, failure means the Hugo Award no longer represents to anyone an honest judgment of worth. The boast ‘Hugo Award Winning!’ becomes a leper’s bell rather than a badge of honor, and any undeceived science fiction readers flee it. REDSHIRTS is not elevated to the stature of DUNE, but DUNE sinks.

Perhaps Mr. Martin can see a means whereby the host and the parasite that forever seeks to destroy the host can coexist in peace. I, for one, cannot.

But I agree that the contest can and should be held in a sportsmanlike fashion, without childish name-calling or actionable libel, and I ask all who read these words to join Mr. Martin in his prayers for peace and goodwill.

Merry Christmas!

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