Dialog with Amazing Stories

Forgive the length of this post. I wanted to present to my readers the situations of the ongoing peace negotiations between me, as the Grand Inquisitor of the Evil League of Evil, and a puppy kicker whose name I happen not to recognize. He is the editor of Amazing Stories, and, at the time of this writing, has posted two issues.

http://amazingstoriesmag.com/2016/01/78452/
He posts as follows:

I had an entirely different post scheduled for this subject today.  It was designed to achieve two purposes:

First, to explain that the Sad Puppies individually and, seemingly, collectively, have roundly rejected most any and all concepts of a possible reconciliation with the fans who have voiced the negative opinion that the puppy’s attempts to manipulate the Hugo Awards  are traditionally and socially unacceptable.  The one concept that they have provisionally accepted is that of an unconditional surrender on the part of the SJW Cabal opposing them, after which they’ll, maybe, consider the Cabal’s suggestions that they unconditionally surrender, and

Second, to draw a large amount of traffic to the website as seems to happen every single time I mention the puppies here.  (And I didn’t even have to go out and recruit my own minions.) This would be nothing but snarky fodder if it weren’t so true.  Try it yourselves.  Put your rain suit on and then post something (accurately) critical of puppies, sit back and watch the spittle fly.

HOWEVER.  I decided that the better course of action was to simply state that both the posts and comments on numerous known puppy-leaning websites would strongly suggest to even the most casual observer that the puppies have no intention of doing anything remotely resembling an attempt to put the past behind us and move on.

My reply:

On a more conciliatory note, let me ask you a serious question:

Kate the Impaler is running Sad Puppies 4. She has already started some sort of website or list. I have not looked at it yet. (I thought it was too early in the year). I have discovered to my surprise that my latest novel SOMEWHITHER has already been suggested as a possible nominee.

Now, this was done without my knowledge or urging. I am frankly pleased and surprised anyone read that book, which did not come out from a major publisher like Tor. It is somewhat eccentric and experimental: I did not expect it to have a broad appeal.

Step into my shoes for a moment. Pretend you are in my position.

According to what you have written above, you are honor bound to vote SOMEWHITHER under ‘No Award’ even though I did not canvass for vote for it.

This is because you wish to punish me for canvassing for vote for it.

Here is the question:

What, if anything, can I do so that you would read that story, assuming it wins the nomination, and give it a fair and unbiased judgement? The same judgment as you would give any other story written any other man or woman, white or black, Christian or Jew?

Think on this carefully: because if the answer is “nothing” then your offer of peace is false.

If the answer is ‘stop writing science fiction’ or ‘decline any awards’ then, again, your offer of peace is false.

As I said, I have not visited Kate’s site, have not asked anyone to nominate any works of mine, have not conspired with like minded individuals to promote a slate. Again, I was surprised to find this particular book of mine being discussed as Hugo-worthy.

So what must I, or anyone, do to get a fair hearing from you? An unbiased judgment?

And if you cannot answer the question, or dodge it, or answer with a counterattack or an airy dismissal, we will both know why that is, won’t we? In your heart of hearts, you will know.

JCJW

His answer

John,

I’ll answer your questions. But first:

Who the hell are you to be giving me classroom instruction? Well, fair enough. I’ll give you some back:

it would be helpful if, in your pronouncements, you were a bit more inclusive – “…would give any other story written any other man or woman, white or black, Christian or Jew?” ought to have been more expansive and included non-binary gender nods, other “races” nods and the acknowledgment of other religions, both Abrahamic and non. Or, more simply, you might have left that part out entirely. Good editing would have suggested that the sentence should have ended “…any other story written.”

What could you do to get your story considered?

Publicly repudiate slates and campaigning. Don’t participate; let your readers know that you don’t endorse slates and have requested that your works not be included on them.

John, I don’t want to punish you or anyone else. What I, and apparently most other fans who voted for the Hugo Awards last year want, is an end to campaigning for Hugo Awards and an end to organized voting.

Your presuppositions about how I might answer speak volumes about your own mind set.

I will first try, once again, to disabuse you of a false assumption: You asked: “What, if anything, can I do so that you would read that story, assuming it wins the nomination, and give it a fair and unbiased judgement?” Last year, I DID read everything in the packet. Including your work. When the final vote came to pass, I only voted for works that were not on slates. I was not able to read and vote for some other works because of the slates. This year, if your story appears on the final ballot and is made available in the packet, I’ll read that too. And I’ll give it a fair, personal judgment based on its merits as a story. THEN I will carefully remove it from consideration because it was on a slate. I shouldn’t have to, but will point out that last year I did exactly what you have requested of me, and will do exactly what you requested of me this year.

There are two separate actions going on there. One – reading the nominated works. Two – a two phase voting procedure. Phase 1, removing all slated works from consideration. Phase 2, voting for the remaining nominees. These are not mutually exclusive actions, despite how hard you’ve been trying to merge them. Had there been no slates, I might have voted differently. If your work had not appeared on a slate, it WOULD have been voted for on the final ballot. What you are asking for is easy to achieve. Everyone not slate voting is already doing it.

Now, John (if I may call you John; feel free to call me Steve, or Mr. Invisible, lol…), a cynical observer might suppose that your request is nothing more than a set up. Repudiate the existing Sad Puppies slate and then let Rabid Puppies do their thing (I think you can expect support from them), which may or may not take place publicly. Last year the RP slate was far more effective than the SP slate, so you’d really be sacrificing nothing by complying. You’d still be largely assured of getting your work nominated, after which you’d probably talk about how you complied with my wishes (and also most likely conflate those wishes with those of the imaginary SJW Cabal) and were still being criticized for participating in campaigning. Then you’d leverage that into support for your claims of the existence of the Cabal and we’d be right back where we started, with you and your followers righteously believing that you’d managed to land some egg on the faces of the SJW Cabal, which would be used to gin up even more support for your “cause”.

But that’s what a cynical observer might say. Me? As an individual fan who is participating in the Hugo Awards? A fan who would like to see the awards get back to what they’ve always been – the collective judgment of the fans attending Worldcon – I’d say your personal best course of action is to disassociate yourself from the puppy stuff, stop campaigning for nominations and awards, stop attacking the people and institutions that participate in the Hugo Awards and wait a few years for things to calm down, while continuing to write and work on your craft. Then, it would be reasonable for you to expect to be treated in the same manner as every other author who produces eligible work during a given year. And that’s how I’d treat your work if it appeared on the final ballot – a story to be judged on its merits beside three or four or five other similar length stories.

Finally, this: “And if you cannot answer the question, or dodge it, or answer with a counterattack or an airy dismissal, we will both know why that is, won’t we? In your heart of hearts, you will know.” I answered your question and in my opinion did not dodge, counterattack or dismiss. In your heart of hearts, you know I did, regardless of how you choose to interpret it.

And my answer to that answer

Yes, you answered the question, no, you may not call me by my first name, sir, and you lost my respect when you decided to lecture me on inclusion.

I am pleasantly surprised you answered in what for you is a civil tone. Shocked, actually. I admit that I underestimated your character, and for that I apologize.

So, your answer is that slate voting is so reprehensible to you that the merit of the story will not be reached.

Your answer contains the speculation that I will be dishonest and dishonorable in my reply and my actions hereafter. This language is of course not conducive to the outbreak of peace for which all men of goodwill hope, but, again, it is speculation and not an accusaiton, so we can set that to one side.

Then, as a hypothetical matter, you say that I should wait a few years and disassociate myself from my loyal readers.

Years?

Years, while telling my loyal readers, whom I did not tell to vote for me, not to vote for me.

Now, that is what I need to get an honest vote from you.

That presupposes there is no cabal manipulating the Hugo Award vote, and no one who votes not to promote well crafted science fiction,but instead to promote inclusion.

Oddly, that was the word you yourself used here, now.

Your answer, in other words, is based on the presupposition that you do not exist, and are not operating against me and my interests.

I find that hard to believe, but out of civility I will put my skepticism aside. Perhaps you are able to vote honestly without your politics controlling your brain.

Now, you suggest here what I would have to give up, that is, my chances of winning an award I deserve — basically an unconditional surrender — merely to get a fair and unbiased vote from you.

But that is something I am owed anyway.

So I give you everything you want from me and you give me nothing

A certain highly placed and well connected figure in the field (not Vox Day) has told me privately that there is a cabal, and told me the names. He asked me not to expose him for fear of retaliation, so you and I are at an impasse. I have evidence that convinces me, but which I am not allowed to show to you, so you are unconvinced.

But suppose for the sake of argument that there is a cabal who, unlike you, would never give someone who is not a member of their circle a fair and evenhanded vote, and who is and shall continue to vote a slate, merely not a public one.

Suppose for the sake of argument it is so: what is my rational course of action then? To repudiate my fans and loyal readers, repudiate slates, and let the slate voting that the unscrupulous are defending and organizing continue?

Now you yourself called on your readers both this year and last year to vote in a bloc, that is, as a slate, in order to prevent me from winning the award. You would rather no one have it than that I have it.

If I make a public announcement to the Sad Puppies repudiating slate voting, will you do the same, and vow on whatever you hold sacred not to vote ‘No Award’?

What say you to that offer, Mr. Davidson?

His reply:

“Now you yourself called on your readers both this year and last year to vote in a bloc.”

No, I did not.

I told readers what I was going to do and laid out the reasons why I believed it was the correct strategy for countering slate voting.

In the spirit of the foregoing, I would like to state for the record that I am against slate voting. You must read and vote on the merit of the work as it is written, neither as a reward for political loyalty, nor as a punishment for political disloyalty.

I have also left what I hope will be a final note with Mr. Davidson.

Done! I accept your offer, I have posted a notice on my blog eschewing slate voting, and you must now perform your part of the deal, and forswear putting my works, should any be nominated, below ‘No Award.’

The forms of honor are satisfied: I attempted to make peace with the enemy. I have done what he required. If he violates the terms, then it is war to the knife and knives to the hilts.

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