When I first heard about The Sad Puppies, I shrugged and said, “Not my monkeys, not my circus”, but eventually people I knew started talking about it in front of me, and I started reading about it. I have read, and read, and read, about the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies and the SJWs and the CHORFs (all names given by the puppies to describe themselves and others), enough that I have taken a side, and that side is not with the Puppies. I don’t see any way to be on the side that declares itself against tolerance and fairness, expresses itself in bigotry and misogyny (plenty of examples; google it, I won’t link to it) and speaks of conspiracies with regard to the nominating and voting on the Hugo awards, and then vows to burn it all down, the process, the Hugos, all of it. All of this because they do not like stories written by and about women, People of Color, LGBT, or more generally anyone who isn’t a white straight male (there are a few exceptions), and that increasingly these stories are winning awards. The Puppies’ preference is for Military SciFi and Space Opera, and Swords Wielded by Men with Bulging Muscles (and sometimes include their idea of females) in the Fantasy stories; they also complain that the winners of recent years have increasingly been works with social agendas. It’s like Calvin’s He-Man Club: no girls allowed.
I view it as sad that there were books that might have been nominated on their own merit, might have won if they had not been included in the slates created by the Puppies factions. They were tainted by association through no fault of their own, and three of these withdrew from the nominations because of this.
People who were not at Sasquan and did not watch the Hugo awards are throwing fits on the internet because the people the puppies nominated did not win, that the vote did not go their way, that some wooden discs with an asterisk were handed out and they think it might just be an insult to them (obviously they’ve never ready anything by the master of the footnote, Sir Terry Pratchett whose passing was honored by these asterisk discs). One is threatening a lawsuit and demanding a refund of his membership fee because the things he wanted to happen did not happen.
They took advantage of the fact that relatively few members bother to nominate anything, made up lists of authors that they felt fit their ideal of SF/F, and then urged friends and fans to nominate from their slate of approved works. They gamed the system and now are angry that their strategy failed. They have vowed to strike back next year.
The whole thing is at times hilarious and frustrating and exhausting. The worst among them have declared it a victory, after their nominees lost.
I give up.
Kitty is Bored With Talk of Puppies.
There is a bright side: I now have a reading list that is stuffed to the gills just from the nominees lists, both the official one and the ones that might have been on the ballot, and some others I have discovered during the conversation. I don’t care which side the author was on, with rare extraordinary exception; I want to read amazing stories and funny stories and deep stories and I don’t care about the politics or the gender of the author unless it bleeds into the story, and even then I might not object even if I disagree. I like Space Opera, I like Heroic Engineers, I like Military SciFi, if it is written well and entertaining or enlightening, or both. Not as big a fan of Fantasy in the past 30 years, but I love Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and several other writers who do write well, entertain, and enlighten me. Now that Sir Terry has published his final work (which I have to wait a few more days to read because I am not in London), I am looking for more authors who have a sense of humor and an original idea, or can rework a cliché into something new and hilarious.
About My Preferences:
Life is too short and you either laugh or you cry.
I want to laugh and be entertained, to read a book that is so amusing that people in the dentist’s office look up from their iPhones when I start snickering and giggling, wondering if I’m having a fit. I love seeing their puzzled faces almost as much as I love being tickled by something I’ve just read. And I want stories that are so engrossing that it’s like coming up for air from the bottom of a pool when the spell is broken.
My short list of sic-fi/fantasy authors and books/stories recently read or that I’d like to read soon:
“Occupy Me” Tricia Sullivan (will come out in January of 2016
“Nowhere Wild” Joe Beernink
“The Shepherd’s Crown” Sir Terry Pratchett
“City of Stairs” Robert Jackson Bennett
“The Slow Regard of Silent Things’, Patrick Rothfuss
“Windswept” Adam Danger Taco Rakunis
“The Regular”, Ken Liu
“Yesterday’s Kin”, Nancy Kress
“Grand Jete” (The Great Leap), Rachel Swirsky
“What Makes This Book So Great” Jo Walton
“Bone Swans” C. S. E. Cooney
“The Martian” Andy Weir
“Goodnight Stars” Annie Bellet
“Lines of Departure” Marko Kloos
“Under the Eye of God” David Gerrold (I read this years ago, a loan from a friend, and didn’t remember the name. Intend to read again)
Books or short stories by:
A bunch of other people.
This is only the sci-fi part of a list that includes authors of other genres, including murder/mystery, historical fiction, works of depth, biographies, and whatever the heck genre Craig Johnson’s Longmire series is.