Archive for April, 2015

on brad torgersen and crocodile tears

Sad Puppy slate organiser Brad Torgersen howls against people using Vox Day against the Puppies slates, railing against the “wild wolf” Vox day, and saying anyone who would vote NO AWARD against the Puppies is a giant asshole. (And he uses that word, so I use it here.)

I’ve also had Torgersen/Correia fans come to me, saying Vox Day isn’t representative of the slate.

I have a big problem with that. Here’s why.

Correia and Torgersen brought him onboard. Actively. Here’s a pro-sad-puppies podcast talking about that decision, back in March, before the shortlist came out. Here’s Brad Torgersen in particular way back in January defending Vox Day, describing him as a “gentleman.” I didn’t have to go digging for these; I spent 30 seconds using DuckDuckGo. It’s that easy to find.

This whole Puppies thing has been a bit abstract for me. Yes, as an active target of that political wing – the anti-gay, anti-women side of it, I mean – I have strong personal feelings. But my campaign is and has been against slate voting in general, which is why I continue to feel that No Award is critical against all slate candidates.

If slates work – as, so far, they absolutely do – they will continue and multiply. The only way to prevent this is to make sure they do not work. Pending rules changes, this is our only option to stop the Hugo Awards from being slates-ad-infinitum.

But this? This obsfucation, this shuffling shifting of blame, this transference of responsibility? This makes me angry. The leadership of the campaign actively made the decision to bring in Vox Day and people like him. So it is impossible to argue Vox Day is not representative; they chose him as one.

Vox Day is inarguably viciously racist, homophobic, and really, really hates women, arguing such things as women find rape and murder attractive (and that this is objective fact, of course), and that marital rape does not exist because marriage is irrevocable consent to sex on demand. And so on – the list is endless!

And none of this – none of it – can be pretended to be any kind of surprise. The man is infamous. He is a walking, writing cartoon of the ultra-right. He was booted from SFWA after using SFWA resources to promulgate a white supremacist rant against another SFWA writer, and his ejection was one of the nebula of triggering complaints floating around when the Puppies were getting started.

In short, all of this was obvious, and they brought him in anyway, by conscious and deliberate choice. And now they’re crying when people talk about it, and pretending it isn’t their fault, and alleging that by talking about it, we’re being so unfair, that we’re “assholes,” and ruining the Hugo Awards.

The audacity is breathtaking. Go to hell, Torgersen. You made this bed. You can lie in it.

eta: A… predictable? and yet baffling? double-down by Torgersen. I mean wow.

eta2: My latest post on Hugo slate voting is over here; there’s a master post here.

we'd better all be ready to go to the business meeting

The Sad/Rabid Puppies have already moved to threats. That’s good. It gets everything right out into the open, so we all know the grounds we’re operating on here.

Specifically, if fans use their fully-legal voting rights to vote NO AWARD in any Puppy-controlled Hugo Award category – something which I strongly urge be voted in every such category – and thereby undo the 10%-of-voters gaming-of-the-system that the Puppies engineered, herr oberpuppyf├╝hrer Vox Day says:

If No Award takes a fiction category, you will likely never see another award given in that category again. The sword cuts both ways, Lois. We are prepared for all eventualities.

Now, this is what I expect out of this sort of crowd, by which I mean, the sort of crowd who thinks that Naziism has more “truth” to it than, say, equality for women – and let me assure you I am not exaggerating, let me quote him for you on that:

National Socialism is not only human logic, it is considerably more logical, and truthful, than Communism, feminism, or secular Zionism. That was part of the tragedy of Germany’s descent into it. Unlike the first two ideologies, it actually functioned effectively.

But lets get back on track, and look at those numbers above. I knew the Puppies bloc – the bloc voting their slate – was a minority in fandom. It’s only yesterday that I found out how small. They’re ten percent.

Ten percent voting in a block got this motley gang of white supremacists, vicious homophobes, misogynistic GamerGate opportunists, and innocent-bystanders-slash-human-shields complete control over most of the fiction awards.

And now we’ve been told that if we don’t sit there, ignore our legal voting options, and give them the trophies that 90% of fans did not want them to have at all… they’ll destroy the awards forever, or at least try.

It reeks a bit of desperation. I don’t think they understood that NO AWARD is a real thing, and now they’re going with threats, and claims of omnipotence, at least in planning. I think the NO AWARD movement has them destabilised.

But even without that, the rules can and will be changed. It takes two years, but unless they’re going to brownshirt-up the business meetings for the next two Worldcons, those rules changes are going to happen and this is going to be stopped…

…but then again, they do say they’re prepared for all eventualities.

Maybe they’ve tipped their hand. Maybe brownshirting up the business meeting is exactly what they mean to do. Come in a bloc, ram through round one of any rule changes they might want (like getting rid of NO AWARD, perhaps?), and most importantly, block any attempt to work around their awards manipulation. That’d be real high on their agenda, given that they’ve already announced they’re going to do all this again next year.

They are all about the politics, after all.

Maybe we all better be ready to go to the business meeting. Turnout is usually small. Maybe this year, it needs to be large. Maybe it needs to be very large. I don’t know what, yet, can be done to stop slates – but something has to happen, or it will be slate vs. slate as far as the eye can see, because political parties work, whether you like it or not. And I’d prefer rules changes to diminish the effectiveness of slates to a slate-vs-slate non-solution.

So I think we have two agenda items:

  1. This year, vote NO AWARD.
  2. Come to the business meeting at Worldcon, and stay there, to make sure it sticks.

eta: The Guide to WSFS Business Meetings. Read this before the meeting!

eta2: This post has a follow-up, here.

the second turntable video: the burke-gilman troll on gramophone

We’re uploading a set of videos, about one a month, of various tracks off of Bone Walker, all being played on different players, since that seems to be a thing with turntables. This one’s “The Burke-Gilman Troll,” on a gramophone!

Video provided by The Hand of the Wolf, a fellow supervillain and fan. Thanks, Hand! The location of your secret lair is safe with us.

on buying some hugo awards, and voting NO AWARD


A lot of people reading this won’t know: there is an award called the Hugo, for science fiction and fantasy literature and fannish activities. There are also awards for movies and film, but the big ones are for the written word. It’s shaped like a rocket, with a base that changes every year.

These awards are nominated and chosen via vote, by members of the World Science Fiction Society, which mostly means Worldcon members. Voting is entirely optional. It’s also possible to join the society (via a “supporting membership”) without attending the Worldcon. That’s pretty cheap, which is important here.

The voting system is reasonably sound, overall, but it has a major vulnerability to gaming. And that vulnerability is: anyone can join the WSFS. It costs $40. If enough people do this and all nominate the same things in lockstep, then they will have all of their choices nominated.

This hasn’t been done before. Oh, there was a case in the late 1980s when the Church of Scientology had a bunch of well-scattered members all acquire memberships in order to buy L. Ron Hubbard’s Mission Earth: Volume 1 a nomination for Best Novel, but it finished behind “NO AWARD.” That’s important, and we’ll talk more about that below.

But as you can see, this is a known vulnerability. In part as a result, and in part in an attempt to maintain the integrity of the award, there has been a long-standing social agreement that people would not campaign, much less exploit the process via slates and bloc voting. This agreement has not even been implicit, but discussed and debated and regularly brought up. People brush up against it pretty regularly; there has been a lot of debate about writers such as John Scalzi and Seanan McGuire posting to their blogs about what works of theirs are eligible, and a lot of argument over whether this constitutes campaigning.

But all of that aside, it’s held up acceptably well. And the only reason it’s worked – the only reason publishing houses haven’t been breaking the system for decades – is that gaming the system isn’t economically effective. The cost needed to buy enough voting rights to capture an award’s nominations via slate voting is much greater than the added economic value of the Hugo Award(tm) label being stuck onto anything.

But political spite-voting has no interest in cost vs. reward; it’s about anger and retaliation, and people will spend anything on that. Anything.

There is a wide rightist/racist/misogynist swath within fandom. It’s led by people like Vox Day, who is, as I have discussed before, an avowed white supremacist. You might recall he was booted out of the Science Fiction Writers of America, for using SWFA resources to promulgate a racist screed against another SFWA member a couple of years ago.

These fans have become increasingly angry over the last few years as women and queers and people of colour – and works about the same – have been nominated, so they started a campaign last year to nominate a slate of acceptably-rightist and rightist-compatible works. Their justification for throwing out the social agreement has been that the wrong people are winning, therefore it’s obviously already rigged by bloc voting, despite the lack of any such evidence, by “social justice warriors”; therefore all rules are off and they can do whatever they want.

Last year, they failed. Some hoped that would be the end of it, but those hopeful people underestimated the power of spite, and this year, the same group succeeded. The “sad puppies” (or “rabid puppies”) slate captured most nominations, including two nominations for Christian supremacist and white supremacist Vox Day himself. Baen Books’s complicity in this – because hey, if you don’t have to pay for it, suddenly vote-buying does make sense – have led some to boycott the imprint.

In order to achieve their result, the Puppies engaged in a massive “voter registration campaign,” mass slate voting, and overt campaigning which included reaching out to the misogynist harassment and hate-group #GamerGate, trying to get more votes from anyone willing to “humble” and “hurt” the “social-justice warriors.” As some of the Sad Puppies have been willing to admit in great detail, it’s about the “wrong” kind of stories winning – or, even, existing.

As with GamerGate, they are now attempting to pretend this had something to do with quality of work and types of work – anything but the real issue. But with samples of now-Hugo-nominated works like this being only the beginning, few people are taking that argument seriously. They’ve also claimed that the works nominated as of late aren’t enough about SF, but that’s pretty hard to sustain when one of their fan-writing slate favourites is mostly a rightist political blog.

They also talk about reaching out to “new voters” within fandom; I’m sure those GamerGate guys are serious science-fiction readers. Totally into it.

Some fans are considering counter-slates for future years. I cannot state strongly enough: This would be a disaster. And not just because it would insure the Puppies more slate victories. To reply with counter-slates would be to enter what in foreign affairs is called a Red Queen’s Race – a continuing escalation of resource expenditure to less and less effect resulting eventually in structural collapse. (See also: wars of terrorism, current case study: Syria. But I digress.)

Fortunately, there is an alternative. Remember, above, how I mentioned that Mission Earth: Volume 1 finished behind NO AWARD?

If NO AWARD wins, no Hugo in that category is awarded. This has happened before – not since 1976, I think, but it has happened.

NO AWARD short-circuits the Red Queen’s Race. It makes all slate efforts null and void, as long as fans collectively decide not to award any award in slate-controlled categories. It burns most of one year, to save the rest. Compared to the alternative of competing political slates that reduce the value and meaning of the award to absolutely nothing on any axis – other than spite – it’s a dramatically better option.

NO AWARD is an available tool, requiring no rules changes. It’s a tool that has been used before. And it is the only answer to this situation. If the only way to win is not to play, NO AWARD is not playing.

Fortunately, you don’t have to vote NO AWARD in all categories this year. A few categories have one or more nominees which are not on the Sad Puppies slates; one is entirely Puppies-free, since they did not nominate in that category. This means no best novella; no best novelette; no best short story; no best related work; no best editor, short or long form. It’s a heavy price, but it’s the only alternative to political voting as far as the eye can see.

This is a list of nominees which did not appear in any form on the Puppies slate. When voting, vote for any of them, in whatever order you prefer. And then beneath that, vote NO AWARD, and do not put any Puppy-nominee on any ballot at all.

It’s an unfortunate thing to have to do, particularly for anyone who might have no role in this other than having been picked for the Puppy slate without cooperation. But if you want to stop this political slate-voting while it can be stopped, NO AWARD is the only option that could work. Do the math; nothing else available under current rules stops this from happening continually. To prevent slates (of any kind) from occurring, the act of slate-voting has to become utterly futile. And this is the only way to achieve that.

So to save the Hugo, WSFS members must vote, must not include any Puppies nominees, and must include NO AWARD.

I urge everyone to do so. Vote, and vote NO AWARD.

ps: You want to know the really pathetic thing? One of the Sad Puppy rallying points is their assertion that Heinlein couldn’t win a Hugo these days. They didn’t even include the new Heinlein biography in their slate, thus insuring it couldn’t win. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s hilarious.

eta: Scalzi has weighed in on the Secret Social Justice Warrior Cabal theory that the puppies use as an excuse for their slate. NO AWARD is still the only answer, but his commentary on their use of him as a scapegoat is amusing.

eta2: I missed Jim Hines’s post on this, wherein he takes apart some of the arguments made about NO AWARD somehow being cheating… while slates are just fine. Apparently. Does that make sense? No, but it doesn’t have to.

eta3: George R. R. Martin has been promising to weigh in for a while, and has; his post is worth reading, I think.

eta4: I have a follow-up post with additional thoughts regarding Vox Day’s threat to end the Hugo Awards entirely over here.

back from norwescon with a big announcement

Back from Norwescon! Here’s what opening ceremonies looked like from the orchestra pit.

It’s All Bendy

And I ran into Aang and Kyoshi, who I thought I’D NEVER SEE AGAIN AAAAAAAAAAAAA or something:


The panels I was on were really well attended, the Leannan Sidhe show I was playing went really, really well, and PDX Broadsides and Bards of a Feather made great first-time Norwescon impressions, and Saturday night was standing-room-only, but the big news for me, personally, is:

I’m stepping down from running nwcMUSIC.

This is a big deal for me; it’s been my baby, but after six years running music at Norwescon and five years building nwcMUSIC as a festival, I need to hand it to other people. I’ve built a legitimate programme here, and I’m really excited that it has momentum and all the tools are in place and everything – but it’s time for me to step down.

The position I’ve created has been, frankly, too much for one person. Certainly for non-supervillains. So there will be several far-more-manageable positions created by my departure.

There will be opportunities like Concerts Lead, Daytime Programming Lead, Publicity and Communications Lead or whatever they end up calling it, possibly a Special Events/Filkcircle Lead. There will be non-lead positions, like Concerts Second (what I’ve called “Water Fairy,” ably managed by Anna in the past), Concert Sound Engineer (replacing the most excellent Jen and John after six years), possibly Videographer (if K decides to move on as well), and so on.

It’s been very hard work, and I’m glad they’re breaking it down into more positions moving forward. It needs to be; nwcMUSIC has been personality-driven this whole time, because really, that’s how a lot of these things get going. Supervillains got FORCE OF MIND, after all. But a lot of times, that’s how these things end, too, when that personality steps away, or is killed by James Bond, or whatever. Job hazards.

But I promise this: you will not be going in unaided. I will share everything I’ve done and learned. I won’t be on the convention committee next year, but I really, really, don’t want to see nwcMUSIC go away. It’s built up into a nice community (that I want to continue to be part of, as a musician), it’s a really good educational experience for the participants, it promotes participation in your own culture, and it’s a heck of a venue for nerdy and geeky artists.

So someone – several someones – need to take my place. If no one does, it really will go away, and I don’t know anyone who wants that. So please – even if you aren’t the right person for any of these positions, cast that net wide, and pass along the news to everyone you know.

And contact Norwescon Special Events – – to get involved. It’ll be a couple of months before much happens for 2016, but they’ll want a list of potential people as soon as possible. This is a big change for Norwescon, too.

I said this at the last show, but thank you again to everyone who has come and played; everyone who has come and participated; everyone who has come and been part of an audience; thanks to K Wiley, videographer, who has worked his ass off to get us livestreaming; and most of all, thanks to Jen Kilmer and John Seghers, who have been our amazing sound crew these past six years. Without them in particular, quite literally none of this could have happened.

We’ve got a hell of a thing here. Keep nwcMUSIC going. I’ll help. And contact to join in, today.

Home Recording 1 attendees, this is your handout.

Welcome nwcMUSIC and Norwescon “Home Recording 1: Kitting Out Cheap” participants! The four-page panel-notes handout you are looking for is right here.

For everyone who has seen this before (and there are several of you), this is actually a slightly new version 0.8, which revises the list of available DAWs and cleans up a couple of other bits. But it’s not a major revision.

Don’t forget that nwcMUSIC concerts WILL BE LIVESTREAMED courtesy FanSupported, so check that out here. Concerts start at 8pm Cascadian/Pacific on Thursday, 7pm on Friday, and 8pm on Saturday. I’m playing with Leannan Sidhe at 8pm on Friday, myself. Enjoy!

T minus one

One day to nwcMUSIC 2015 and Norwescon 38. As part of the big show, Anna and I are both offering discount on our arts, and I’ve been making miniflyers and stuff.

Those discount codes are already active, by the way

Also, Anna has some Bone Walker posters to give away; they’ll be on the freebie table or at the NIWA table in the Dealers’ Room. You should go visit her there during the day! And, as last year, we’ll be streaming concerts via the fine folks at FanSupported,

My big worry is that Cascadia’s Got Talent! is the masquerade halftime show. Getting acts has always been dodgy. We’ve always had enough for a good show in the end, but generally not until right before curtain, and that’s hair-raising at best. So please, if you have any kind of talent and want to have some fun showing it off? Sign up at the con. Paperwork will be at the Information Table.

It’s running at the same time as concerts, which means I don’t get to MC my own game show. Snif. Ah well, the marvellous and talented Shubzilla will do very well, I’m confident.

Also, in case I forgot – I’m playing on Friday, at 8pm, with Leannan Sidhe. We’re doing their material, and opening for PDX Broadsides, who are very funny. Come up to the Evergreens for that and say hi!

See you there, I hope!

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