I haven’t blogged in awhile, for various reasons, none of which involve any decreased interest in speculative fiction or any of my other common topics. Mostly, I’ve just been doing other stuff that serves those same interests: game design, writing, more writing, working on machine translation, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence software.
I don’t have any major plans to become as active on this blog as I once was. However, I do intend to still post occasionally. Perhaps once a month or so, if nothing drags me back to it because of its sheer awesomeness. Do consider this a “dragged-back” post; do not consider the reason the sheer awesomeness of spec fic. I’m writing this post for a much more depressing reason:
Sad Puppies. I love puppies. Not as much as kittens, but they’re still pretty adorable. I don’t like it when they are sad. I wish we could all just be Happy Puppies. In furtherance of that goal, I have a few things to say about the recent Hugo Awards Slate Voting Controversy, henceforth to be referred to as the Sad Puppies (Incident). That’s not a value judgement; it just seems like the most people will recognize it without a drawn-out explanation o my part.
So, a few important points:
- No one should ever be sending death threats to someone over their political opinions. Nor rape threats. Nor creepy anonymous phone calls. Not to left-wingers, right-wingers, or any sort of -wingers.
- In general, the politics of an author are unimportant when judging a book. If the politics of the book itself (or any other form of writing or story-telling) make you squeamish, fine. Don’t read it; don’t buy it; don’t vote for it. But don’t attack the author based on their politics, or their book’s politics. Not unless they’ve been actively user their author persona to promote those politics. Still don’t attack them. Follow Rule #1. If they open the door by posting politics on their blog, feel free to go there and debate them. Dislike them as people. Decide not to buy their books. But don’t drag the spec fic community into it. Don’t actively campaign against others buying their books. Don’t actively campaign for them, either, if you don’t like them. Campaign for what you like, and leave the hate out of it, either way.
- I’m politically left. Possibly even a socialist. I read plenty of right-wing-slanted stories. I even enjoy some of them. I read books by politically-right authors. The same goes for the left, if we insist on dragging politics into it. I think some books on both “sides” are great. I think the majority are mediocre to readable, and I think some books on both “sides” suck. That’s a separate issue from whether I was the target audience for a book. I can like some things about a book and hate others. Maybe it had a great plot but poor prose. maybe it had deep characters but I hated their politics. Maybe I thought the politics were tolerable but they hit me over the head with them too many times. Maybe the book sucked, but I was the target audience so I cut it some slack. (never too much, good writing/story always trumps politics). maybe it rocked by I was not the target audience so I was a bit more critical of it than I otherwise might have been. We’re all biased in one (or many) way(s) or another. Maybe I liked some books by an author, but hated others. I disagree strongly with much of the politics of OSC. I still liked his Ender books, and his Gate books. I hated his Seventh Son books. Partly for political reasons, partly because I just didn’t like them as stories.
I’m absolutely against what the Sad Puppies are doing. But I totally believe that they’re telling the truth, or their interpretation of it as far as some of the treatment they received. I don’t thik they chose the right response. I don’t agree with their vision for “real” or “proper” Speculative Fiction. But that doesn’t excuse bad behavior on the part of the Happy Puppies. Criticize them for their actions, not their politics. Criticize them for bad quality writing or story-telling, not for their politics. Criticize their politics. Challenge their views. But don’t attack them. Don’t call them names, don’t threaten them. (What qualifies as name-calling may differ among groups. Sorry.)
Better commentators than I have already talked voting policy to death. Good luck to everyone at Worldcon.