…of your stupidity do you Puppies want from me? Clear warning labels on anything which might have Teh Gay, apparently. Or on anything with deviation from Puppy Gender Roles, or, maybe, on anything they might find philosophically discomforting. (But wait, I thought “SJW”s being “too sensitive” was part of the problem? Oh, right, that’s other people, they don’t count.)

From a February discussion of what’s wrong wrong wrong with SF, on Puppy leader Brad Torgersen’s blog:

Stephen J. says:

“I for one would find it helpful if you would cite a specific novel that you see as having been deceptively packaged.”

The first example that comes to mind is Mercedes Lackey’s The Last Herald-Mage trilogy. Now this may perhaps not convince, as it is (a) quite old at this point — the books having been published in 1989, 1990 and 1991 — and (b) the “deception” is mostly a matter of omission rather than active misrepresentation, and furthermore an omission that is not necessary for people who had read Lackey’s first Heralds trilogy and recognized the protagonist Vanyel Ashkevron from that first series’ backstory. Nonetheless, I think it is significant that neither the books’ covers, nor any of the back-of-the-book summaries — the stuff, in short, that usually gets the browsing reader to pick up a paperback and buy it — mentions what is usually considered the most “important” aspect of Vanyel’s life story: the fact that he is gay. And it is not until the reader is at least 40% into the first book, and hopefully already well-engaged by the story, that this revelation is made not only about the character but to the character; in other words, the story is structured to draw readers in and then surprise them with that element, in such a way that I cannot help but think (though this is admittedly unproveable) it was deliberately designed to reach audiences who would not have bought the book if they had known about the hero’s sexuality right up front. It also seems plausible, to me at least, that given the high proportion of teenage readers of SF/F in any given decade, books which did not alert people who glanced at them on a desktop or shelf about content that might upset parents were also appreciated.

Screen capture here, in case somebody thinks I’m making this shit up.

Thanks to Nick Mamatas for finding and pointing this out.

You also have John C. Wright saying, as far as I can tell, that having a transgendered character exist at all in Magic: The Gathering counts as deceptive. (Here’s the story about her.) Also, you have “BikerDad” saying that he was mislead by a cover and a blurb he missed part of when skimming, so, I guess, if you have to read all the words in the blurb, that’s deceptive too?

Here’s another one from the first commenter. I don’t really want to pick on one person, but he’s just got it all. Damn those trixy, trixy authors, writing about things that aren’t obvious in the first chapter!

Stephen J. says:

For another more recent series which might be accused of concealing a message until the reader is hopefully too entangled in the story to turn away, I’d suggest Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. What begins as initially a cool young-adult peregrination adventure through a steampunk world, and later various multiple worlds, winds up culminating in an author tract against religion in general and Christianity in the specific, to such a degree that several people I’ve read who had no disagreement with the content of that message nonetheless felt Pullman’s heavy-handedness about it had spoiled the story. And as with Lackey above, the fact that this thematic and philosophical message is (in hindsight) clearly intentional all along, yet not explicitly manifested until the reader is well drawn in, suggests a certain degree of deliberate disingenuousness on the author’s part designed to “catch” readers who might not normally have been drawn by that story.

(Screencapture, as before.)

It’s worth nothing that these (and there are more) all come from Brad’s semi-infamous “Unreliable packaging” post, where one of the great Puppy complaints is quite literally that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Take it, Brad:

A few decades ago, if you saw a lovely spaceship on a book cover, with a gorgeous planet in the background, you could be pretty sure you were going to get a rousing space adventure featuring starships and distant, amazing worlds. If you saw a barbarian swinging an axe? You were going to get a rousing fantasy epic with broad-chested heroes who slay monsters, and run off with beautiful women. Battle-armored interstellar jump troops shooting up alien invaders? Yup. A gritty military SF war story, where the humans defeat the odds and save the Earth. And so on, and so forth.

These days, you can’t be sure.

I’m not the first to talk about this; I won’t be the last. But I haven’t just gone out and posted about it before, because normally, when I post, I want to provide some analysis. But I can’t. It’s just so damned stupid.

Except for one thing.

To my mind, what they’re really saying here, in these comments, is that they don’t want to have to consider the possibility that works about people and ideas they don’t like even exist. That in and of itself is too great a burden to bear, and constitutes SJW’s Destroying SF.

They’re complaining about needing to filter works in order to avoid stories that include us, and that this filtering process is just too difficult, and by god, they’re mad as hell about it, and aren’t going to take it anymore.

Arguably, I already said that, when I said it’s “just so damned stupid.” But it’s also lazy. And, I think, most of all – it’s deeply, profoundly, petulant.

Way to live down to antique stereotypes, guys. Well done.
 


This is part of a series of posts on the “Sad Puppy” gaming of 2015 Hugo Award nominations.

eta: Welcome, Arthur Chu fans! Despite all the Puppies posts lately, I’m actually a geek musician. You can listen to our new neo-Celtic fantasy novel soundtrack album by hitting play on the gadget in the upper left, or pick individual tracks on Bandcamp.

Also, we’re having a Welcome All Zerg Rushers discount as a welcome present. Thanks for stopping by, and, again, welcome!