Cereal and puppies in unpleasant company

Yesterday, care of Nathan over at Fantasy Review Barn, I fell into a puddle of stuff about the Sad Puppies Hugo campaign, and the associated mindset and community.

I found many things in this to be uncomfortable about, but I was trying to be even-minded in crafting my thoughts about it. After all, this crew has as much right as anyone to write, read and tell people about whatever things they find most delightful in the genre. Now personally – to borrow Brad Torgersen’s lengthy breakfast cereal analogy, from what appears to be a statement of intent about the Sad Puppies list – towards the end of the ’90s and into the ’00s, I was picking up book after book and going, “Ugh, not fucking Nutty Nuggets again. Don’t we have any variants on this recipe?” So to be honest, I am delighted with the wide range of strings fantasy fiction has been adding to its bow in the last fifteen years. More, more, more, I say (with gleeful disregard for the length of my to-read list). But I appreciate how Mr Torgersen might be sad about what he clearly perceives to be a lack of Nutty Nuggets. (I say perceives because, from where I’m sitting, there are still heaps of books of that ilk. I know because I’m picking them up in the bookstore – or getting them out from the library – not finding anything interesting about them, and putting them back.)

So I thought maybe these were reasonable people, despite the unfortunate tendency various of their community seem to have to tell divergent views to get out of their genre and stop culturally appropriating it. And despite the fact they’re voluntarily standing next to Vox Day, whose behaviour has been so disrespectful and repellent as to have caused one Sad Puppy inclusion to request removal from the list. And then I saw that Larry Correia (in Edit 2 of the post) welcomes to their campaign GamerGate, that eminently reasonable, never disrespectful and certainly never violent crowd.

I completely support everyone’s right to read, write and enjoy whatever it is that they enjoy. I’d really like it if they supported my right to read, write and enjoy the stuff that I enjoy. The rhetoric of the Sad Puppies campaign about purity of the genre and suggestions that no one actually enjoys that stuff with all the commentary on human issues bothers me (not to mention the latter being inaccurate in my case, at least) and I’d feel more reassured that it was just about reading if the company the campaign was keeping wasn’t quite so poisonous, vindictive, and reactionary. As it is, I find it difficult to imagine good intentions flourishing in that environment.

In any case, this whole thing has induced me to do something I have never done before: register to vote for the Hugos. So let’s do this thing.

For the record, I have read the first of Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter books. I did not enjoy it. I am currently reading Kameron Hurley’s The Mirror Empire, and it’s blowing my mind; I am particularly enjoying the gender and consent worldbuilding. I can see how people might have opposing views on either of those things. Care to return the favour?

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