The Sad Puppies Should Have Done Better

What Happened To The Sad Puppies? In 2015 the Sad Puppies were a presence in SF and in culture in general.  In 2016 the Sad Puppies became almost a nonentity.  All through the year it was the Rabids that drove the show and that hurt both the Sad Puppies And possibly the future of Sf in the long term.

I think that the problem is that Kate Paulk, when she took over leadership didn’t understand what she was getting herself into. I think that she thought that if she had a more moderate approach that the kind of beating around that the Sad Puppies got in 2015 would be moderated.  I’m not sure what led her to believe that, but there was.

Then there was the launch of the Sad Puppies site, the nominations and then, nothing.  For months no reviews, no blog entries, nothing. It’s not as if she was off line either.  Yet for months she left the stage empty except for the Puppy Kickers and Vox.   I’m not sure why but it may be that she was hoping to avoid conflict.  Or she just got busy and could not give Sad Puppies the attention it deserved.  Yet there weren’t even any blog posts on either the Sad Puppies blog or the Mad Genius Club.

Which led to stuff like this.

Throughout the Hugo year there was no effort to make the Sad Puppy case. It was bad enough that even File 770 noticed.

“9) ABSTAIN. At Mad Genius Club, Kate Paulk looks over the nominees in the two editor categories — “Hugo Category Highlights – The Finalists – Best Editor, Short Form and Long Form”. She finds only Jerry Pournelle worthy of consideration in Short Form, and as for Long Form:

I think I’m going to have to sit out this category. There simply isn’t enough in it that’s caught my attention over the year for me to make a judgment, and I personally refuse to simply say “Oh, X is a good person and they’ve done a lot of good over the years”. That’s not what the award is for.

That’s pretty amazing, to think Paulk invested a whole year promoting the Sad Puppy cause while being bored by the output of nine of its ten Hugo-nominated editors.”

“(9) FEELING COLD. Not that Kate Paulk liked any of these Hugo nominees, but in her pass through the Best Semiprozine category she delivered the least condemnation to Sci Phi Journal:

Sci Phi Journal edited by Jason Rennie – Sci Phi was the only finalist with any content that drew me in, and honestly, not all of it. I could have done without the philosophical questions at the end of each fiction piece, although that is the journal’s signature, so I guess it’s required. I’d rather ponder the questions the stories in questions raised without the explicit pointers – although I will say they weren’t as heavy-handed as they could have been, and they did highlight the issues quite well. I’m just fussy, I guess.”

“(12) A MAD GENIUS ON THE HUGOS. Kate Paulk devotes half of “Hugo Awards – The Nominee Highlights – Best Fanzine” to criticizing Gregory Benford’s intention to vote for Steve Stiles in the Best Fan Artist category. Yet his reasons for supporting Stiles — Steve’s years of accomplishment as a cartoonist — parallel my reasons for voting for Toni Weisskopf as Best Pro Editor in 2015.”

Essentially as result of inactivity the Puppies left the field to Vox and “Raptor Butt invasion.”  Which was funny for a while, but after a while you realize that it’s puppy butt that’s being invaded.

The problem is that if there any desire to keep the Hugo Awards as anything other than a pissing contest between the vilest people in SF, we Puppies failed miserably.  The Rapids dominated the noms and the Kickers “No Awarded” every thing in sight, again. Both sides followed by crowing victory, when in fact everybody lost.

One of the “No Award” votes was for the category of “Best Related Work”.  Multiple entries were about the dark underbelly of “fandom”, specifically the covering up of child molestation and abuse to protect Politically Correct authors.  One of the nominees was “The Story of Moira Greyland” by the daughter of Marion Zimmer Bradley, outlining the molestation she was a victim of by her mother, and of her child molester father, who died in prison after being convicted of molesting an eleven year old boy.

During the awards ceremony, between announcing the title and author, and the announcing of the publisher which was in this case the website “”, the toastmaster, Pat Cadigan, slipped in the aside “she would know”.*

That moment validated the complaint that the “inner fandom” protects their own, particularly if they were into “alternate sexualities”.  The Hugo Awards have indeed become insular an incestuous in nature.

The award winners were largely predictable.  Unless otherwise clearly supported, the vote was against the puppies and either “No Award” was announced, or there was a rally round the most politically correct alternative.  A bid hubbub was made out of how White males were shut out of the top literary awards (novel, novella, novelette, short story).  In particular, the acceptor of the award for Best Novel read a statement by the author that belittled the puppies and reveled in the brave new world of a glorious science fiction future free from oppressive White males oppressively oppressing hack Politically Incorrect writers.

The other “puppy kicking” speech came from the Best Graphic Story winner Neil Gaiman who celebrated the puppy kicking… despite both Puppy Slates finding his work to be Hugo worthy.

Toastmaster Pat Cadigan* engaged in the classic “DARVO” trick of accusing the accuser:

“DARVO refers to a reaction that perpetrators of wrong doing, particularly sexual offenders, may display in response to being held accountable for their behavior. The perpetrator or offender may Deny the behavior, Attack the individual doing the confronting, and Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender such that the perpetrator assumes the victim role and turns the true victim into an alleged offender. This occurs, for instance, when an actually guilty perpetrator assumes the role of ‘falsely accused’ and attacks the accuser’s credibility or even blames the accuser of being the perpetrator of a false accusation.”

In their little world, they Deny that the Hugo Awards and the “core fandom” have become insular and incestuous with the awards—supporting themselves and the select few authors to the exclusion of more popular works—and then Attack those who called them on it while Reversing the role of Victim and Offender by portraying themselves high priests of Science Fiction and Fantasy defending their hallowed institution from a bunch of wreckers.  The “Sad Puppies” started, not to destroy the Hugo Awards, but to save them by promoting what they believes to be quality works that were outside of the Politically Correct and/or insular fandom vein.  Vox Day’s “Rabid Puppies” were a response to reaction of the WorldCon inner sanctum against the “Sad Puppies”.

Indeed, the Hugo Awards have quickly become a pissing contest between the “old guard” and Vox Day, with the “Sad Puppies” becoming more than a crowdsourcing of recommendations for Hugo worthy works and collating support for various works.

Here’s a bunch of links.

A Tale of Two Awards

Rant: The Dragon Awards and the Convergence of Exiles

Another Worldcon, Another Bonfire


The fact is that when you are in the culture wars you can never let up and you never, ever say you are sorry.  I think that Kates more modest approach and attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable only fed the beast.  The failure to create any buzz or even respond just made things worse.  The biggest issue to me is that, for months, Kate never asked for any help, any blog posts, nothing.  She embarked on no politicking and can’t find any evidence of any activity other than setting up a safe space at Worldcon for the yet again no awarded nominees.  For her approach, in the end the Sad Puppies got nothing tangible, no respect, no handshake and no attempts to meet the Puppies half way. The fact is that in the end as little as I like to say this, it turns out that Vox and the Rabids were right.

At least the war was not only reliant on the efforts of the Puppies, either Sad or Rabid.  Somebody took the Puppy Kickers advice to heart and with DragonCon, came up with awards that returned the emphasis to fans and readers rather than a small clique of people dependent on the fading traditional publishing and the poor stuff that they had been putting up for awards.

As far as this goes, the Hugos are dead, The Puppies didn’t kill them, they were dead when Larry started the Puppies. The Hugos were dead because nobody cared anymore.  The Hugos died because the small clique that had expense accounts from their employers and could go to WorldCon after WorldCon nominated the kind of stuff that pulled further and further away from what the readers really wanted.  That is death to an award that is supposed to represent the opinions of the readers.  Unfortunately all the WorldCon types wanted was an echo chamber and little hood ornaments on their shelves to appease their egos.

Maybe if Kate had actually been more proactive things might have been different. If only she had asked for more help if she thought she needed it, if even to just keep up a weekly Sad Puppies blog post.  I’m sure that there were those of us who would have been willing to do more.  In the end though, I doubt that any minds would have been changed.  So let Vox continue his games, that is if he hasn’t found bigger targets to play with.  In any case, like so much that the progressives have taken over, the Hugos and what was the science fiction establishment are dying. The plain fact is that what they had to sell, nobody wanted to buy.  They should have read their Heinlein and tried to understand what he was talking about when he said, :”We are writing for Joe’s beer money and Joe likes his beer. It’s our obligation to give him at least as much fun from our books as he’d  get from a six pack.”

The puppy kickers have forgotten, in the corporate, commoditized, NYC bubble that they live in, that simple fact.  Science fiction fails when it tries to be something it’s not.  Much of the old pulp stuff is available online for free and before sneering at what the Puppies were talking about, the kickers should read the stuff that already has met the “six pack test.” The fact is that there’s a lot of competition for that beer money and if Joe doesn’t like what you are plumping out at eight bucks a pop, Joe is putting his money some place else.  That’s the essence of the Puppy message and that’s what the Puppies need to  keep repeating.  We need to do better, much better next time.

Update: Apparently Amanda over at Mad Genius Club is angry that I dared to criticize how Sad Puppies went last year.

Wow, I guess the OP forgot about the years leading up to 2015, years when Larry Correia led the SPs and had the other side foaming at the mouth. Years when the SPs were much more in your face than they were in 2015 under Brad Torgersen, who happens to be one of the nicest guys around. He forgot that, while Brad did engage with the other side, he did so only after he — and his family — were attacked. The OP also seems to have forgotten that Vox Day and his Rabid Puppies made their appearance in 2015, hijacking much of the movement and muddying the waters for so many who weren’t intimately familiar with what the SPs were after, leading people to think the two groups were basically the same. The OP also forgot that, no matter how hard Brad and others tried to make it clear SPs had nothing to do with RPs, it didn’t work. But, I guess if he mentioned that, it wouldn’t fit his narrative that Kate somehow failed.

Also, how in the hell did Kate and SP 2016 possibly hurt the future of SF in the long term? The Hugos are a non-starter for most fans of the genre. You walk into any bookstore or library and ask readers of the genre, or of any genre, if they could name a Hugo winner (or even a nominee) and the vast majority will be unable to. Those who can will probably tell you that they run from books that have won the award because those stories quit being entertaining years ago.

So apparently Kate did stuff offline

First of all, SP has never been a 24/7, 365 day a year obligation. Second, there were posts on MGC. Third, I guess the OP thinks being online is the only way to get the message out. He seems to ignore the fact that Kate went to cons. She used face-to-face conversations to discuss with those who had been sitting on the fence, even those who opposed SPs in the past to get the message across. She showed that we weren’t all frothing at the mouth as we had been depicted. But that, too, doesn’t fit the OP’s narrative. Whether it is because he ignored her posts about what she was doing — as well as the guest post and comments by some of those she spoke with — I don’t know.

Actually I am fully aware that there are ways to get the message out offline.  I’m also aware that there was nothing seemingly being done on that front.  As for con attendance, the only ones I remember were Luancon and Libertycon. As far as I know Kate made no arrangements for making connections at Lunacon and Libertycon is a Puppy stronghold so special arrangement were necessary.  The fact is that I never saw any con after action reports either and nothing came up on File770 when I checked.  As Sad Puppies being a 365 operation, I understand that it is not.  Still, was a weekly blog post too much to ask for? Or any blog posts in either the Sad Puppies or Mad Genius for Sad puppies at all. That was the first thing I checked, which apparently Amanda could not be bothered to click the links I provided.  All there was, was empty air for months.  I also checked File 770 for stuff and found little or nothing.  If Amanda knows of a post that I could not find, all she had to do was provide a link.


It’s interesting that she can’t be bothered to address me by name.  She also didn’t ask me to respond before going off on this emotional and pointless rant loaded with logical fallacies and demonstrating a lack of knowledge of the time line of events in 2015. Perhaps she should have checked this blog where I posted everything I could find last year.

BTW the puppy kickers were going apecrap over the Nutty Nuggets post that Brad did before they attacked his family.  In fact the Nutty Nuggets post was the start of it all. As for the Rabids, Brad made a point of reiterating that the Sads were a separate entity.  IN any case Brad did not spend months sitting and saying nothing.

I looked HARD for evidence that what I was thinking about the Sad Puppies campaign was wrong.  I went to file 770 and dug deep looking for anything at all that would prove that there was any Puppy activity.  Nothing. As I linked, even the commenters were talking about it.  As for why I think that Kate was uncomfortable with what she got herself into well here’s this video.


Is this the look of somebody who is confident with what they are doing? Look if I ma wrong about this it should be easy to find the stuff to prove me wrong. The fact that Amanda has to resort to cheap and stupid accusations rather than presenting the evidence more or less proves my point.


  1. MadRocketSci · November 20, 2016

    IMO, this is part of the typical asymmetry between normal positive creative people and political fanatics: People with something positive to contribute don’t, won’t and can’t become permanent crusaders for a cause. Eventually, they have to go back to their lives. The cause isn’t a substitute for their lives, it is just instrumental in achieving a finite goal.

    The sad puppies campaign had the attention of people wanting to make the type of science fiction they liked more visible, for about as long as it took to make their point. Then they went back to their lives.

    IMO, sci-fi authors need to focus their time and energy on writing sci-fi, not trying to wrest awards away from cliques of fanatics. Ultimately the award is just a reflection of the preferences of the people doing the awarding. The books are what matters.


  2. MadRocketSci · November 20, 2016

    PS: If sci fi is dying, it’s because not enough authors are writing good science fiction, not because the “wrong people” are in firm cultural control of an award. I as a reader can’t remember ever caring about awards on a book cover.

    As far as I can tell, publishers are pretty much irrelevant these days. The “means of production” for a book is any computer. Anyone has this, all they have to do is want to write. Continuing to campaign for the approval of people who hate you is absurd and pointless, if you really don’t need their approval at all anymore to produce books.


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  4. camestrosfelapton · November 22, 2016

    //The fact is that when you are in the culture wars you can never let up and you never, ever say you are sorry.//

    It reads like you wanted more kerfuffling for the sake of kerfuffling. Well that was pretty much what the Rabids were about, a fight for the sake of fighting. That would do wonders for blog traffic and nothing for the claimed aims of Sad Puppies.

    I saw nothing in what SP4 did that was ‘continuing to campaign for the approval of people who hate you is absurd and pointless’. Notable Sad Puppies such as Kate P or Sarah H or Dave F didn’t compromise their claims or moderate their rhetoric BUT what SP4 did do was focus on doing something 1. constructive and 2. defined by what they believed in rather than what they were opposing.

    Sure, somebody could have run a replay of Sad Puppies 3 and the result would have been the same. Sp4 tried to build something different and that deserves some credit.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nicki · November 22, 2016

    Translation: I would like to promote the impression that I’m an insider vice a hanger on.

    Had you been an insider, as you claimed on MGC, you could have emailed Kate directly, and asked for a few comments for your blog post. You do have her email address, right?

    Instead, you once again try to paint yourself as a victim, while pointedly ignoring that it was your violation of the rules that got you the boot, and using your alleged victimhood as an excuse for an unwarranted, cheap attack on Kate (likely because you’re still butt hurt over old business). Dog forbid you actually try to be objective and publish all sides of the events, instead of demanding that ACTUAL insiders provide you with the evidence to counter your attack!

    Wow. Some gall!

    And by the way, since you WEREN’T an insider, as you try to claim to be, perhaps you should have grown a pair and approached Kate rather than simply launch juvenile attacks on what many acknowledge to have been a superb effort.

    How transparent.


    • jccarlton · November 22, 2016

      Translation: I commit unwarranted attacks on everything in sight. doing it again Nicki? I wasn’t painting myself as a victim and as far as emailing and all sides of the story, if Kate wants to comment or email comments I will update. I already did for Amanda’s post. I may not agree, but unlike you all, I give people fair chances.


      • Nicki · November 23, 2016

        “I’m launching a cheap, public attack on Kate, and it’s up to her to publicly counteract my BS, because I was too cowardly to contact her for a comment in the first place.”

        Decency? Right. Now.


      • jccarlton · November 23, 2016

        Nicki, since when have you ever treated anybody decently? Maybe you look to yourself before commenting on others.


      • Nicki · November 23, 2016

        John, I’d hand you some hemorrhoid cream, but I’m just not that nice.


      • jccarlton · November 23, 2016

        Nicki I’m not sure what yo think yo want, but acting an abusive bully WILL NOT WORK. It just makes you look bad.


      • Nicki · November 23, 2016

        Aaaaand we’re right back to playing victim. This, AFTER launching a cheap attack on Kate for no reason at all. Nice, John. Real nice.


      • jccarlton · November 23, 2016

        Nicki, one word, “honeytrap.” Now I hope that you will go and have a good time with your family, a Happy Thanksgiving, a great weekend and that you don’t respond to this until Monday night.


      • Nicki · November 24, 2016

        As I have no idea what you’re talking about, and it sounds like incoherent rambling to me, seeya! And have an awesome Thanksgiving!


    • jccarlton · November 22, 2016

      Nicki, maybe before demanding that people take others into consideration, you should hesitate before going into full attack mode and not taking the time to talk to others. Yo know the more you act the way you do, the more it is that the consequences of your inability to moderate yourself is going to have an impact on those around you. That’s what went a long way toward starting all this and a few seconds to try to do things a more moderate and considerate way goes a long way toward keeping things from blowing up. I don’t matter that much, but there’s a good chance that if you keep going the way you are, you’re going to hurt somebody who DOES matter and then where will you be?


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