Because the puppy kickers will not let it die. This piece is a case in point.
In September 2014, the sci-fi/fantasy world was rocked by revelations about the bizarre online past of a much-praised young author in the field, the Thai-born, Hong Kong-based Benjanun Sriduangkaew, one of that year’s finalists for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Sriduangkaew was outed as a notorious social justice “rage-blogger” known by the fitting moniker “Requires Hate” (a shortened version of the title of her blog, “This Requires Only That You Hate”), whose vitriol-soaked takedowns and callouts of “problematic” works and authors had sown fear in the SFF community since 2011. What’s more, Requires Hate also doubled as a prolific troll and cyberbully who mainly went by “Winterfox” but sometimes used other handles.
After several weeks of heated debates, a lengthy, detailed, carefully researched report on Sriduangkaew’s activities under her various aliases was posted by sci-fi writer Laura Mixon on her LiveJournal blog.
It makes for a hair-raising read. Requires Hate’s rants made Jeong’s tweets sound like drawing-room pleasantries. She frequently resorted to graphic threats of murder, rape, mutilation, acid attacks, and other extreme violence. Of American sci-fi novelist Paolo Bacigalupi, whom she blasted as a “raging racist fuck” and an “appropriative bag of feces,” she wrote, “If I see [him] being beaten in the street I’ll stop to cheer on the attackers and pour some gasoline on him,” and “Let him be hurt, let him bleed, pound him into the fucking ground. No mercy.” Irish-American author Caitlyn Kiernan was branded a “rape apologist” whose “hands should be cut off so she can never write another Asian character.”
According to Mixon, Sriduangkaew, often aided by her followers, had at various times tried to “suppress the publication of fiction and reviews” and get speakers disinvited from panels and readings; cyber-stalked sci-fi fans who had crossed her; “chased down positive reviews” in order to “frighten reviewers and fans away” from promoting works she disliked; and “single-handedly destroyed several online SFF, fanfic, and videogaming communities with her negative, hostile comments and attacks.” (All italics in the original.) Moreover, “At least one of her targets was goaded into a suicide attempt.”
Mixon’s post prompted many of Requires Hate’s victims—including some who were not named in the report, such as Canadian author J.M. Frey—to speak up in the comments. Their accounts were shocking, not only for what they revealed about Sriduangkaew’s behavior but for her targets’ reactions. Frey, whose award-nominated, well-reviewed 2011 debut novel Triptych was repeatedly trashed on the Requires Hate blog, wrote:
I nearly stopped writing when this happened. I shook every time I sat down to a keyboard. It took me 75 drafts to turn in a novel (with a [person of color] lead!) to my agent. I cried a lot. … When I saw her site’s links incoming in my website meta data I felt sick. I had to learn how to block them.
Mostly I’ve gotten over it, but every single time I sit down to write a new project, I have to give myself a pep talk about how I have to write what I want… I second guess everything I write now. I waffle, and bemoan, and I try to be good at representation and gender and sexuality in my books, but nobody is perfect and I feared, I genuinely feared putting more books out into the world because I was scared.
Frey also wrote that Requires Hate’s tirades made her scared of more than social disapproval. She began to avoid conventions, fearing that she would run into her tormentor and that the latter “would escalate from words to something horrible, something physical,” such as “come across a dance floor and hit me in the head with a beer bottle.”
Several other commenters also wrote that being targeted by Requires Hate and her minions affected them profoundly. Charles Terhune, an American sci-fi author, said that as a new writer just getting his start in the field, the experience left him “scarred and skittish for a long time”—and wary of “writing anything other than white male characters.” Colum Paget, an Irish writer who found himself on the receiving end of her invective, admitted that he “pretty much stopped writing because of it.”
The winner for best short story was, if anything, worse. After trying to read it, and failing, I have to wonder if any of the various people that awarded it the awards that it received tried to read the tortured language and poor story construction or just were checking off the virtue signaling check boxes.
Sarah gave up Sad Puppies. Rather violently as she slapped Declan Finn for mildly suggesting a list for the next Sad Puppies. Little did we supporters know that she was planning to shut Sad Puppies down the entire time. I understand her reasons for doing so, but in the end she left the field to the other side unopposed. That has had consequences. Not for Sarah, Brad or Larry, but for young authors like this:
Amelie Wen Zhao is a Young Adult author whose debut sci-fi/fantasy novel, Blood Heir, was set for a June release from a major publisher, as part of a three-book deal. When the deal was announced a year ago, Zhao, who is just starting her career, made her excitement public:
Three-book deals. Manuscripts going to auction. Offers from the Big 5 Publishers.
These had all seemed like dreams to me. Literally, dreams towards which I could reach yet never even hope to achieve, to cross that yawning abyss in-between. Wishes from the highest star in the skyat which I could only gaze and gaze and gaze.
Until last month.
I don’t think it’s sunk in until this very moment, when I sat down to write this post — that I am going to be a published author.
I AM GOING TO BE A PUBLISHED AUTHOR!!!!!!
On a recent Skype session with my parents, my mother told me in tears that, when I was around 8 years old, I said to her one day: “Mama, I want to be an author!” And she gently sat me down and told me the reality. That so few authors make it — and fewer, still, make it big. That many still struggle on in pursuit of their dream. That I have to decide whether I want a life of comfort — one that my parents have gifted me — or a life of uncertainty, potential financial duress, and, very possibly, never having my books see the day of light.
I chose. For my entire life, I’ve prepared myself for a career in finance, telling myself it was the more realistic choice, that success stories for authors came true once in a blue moon and that dreams were something only Cinderella’s fairy godmother could grant with a wave of her wand.
The past two months could not have proven me more wrong. From my success with #DVpit to getting my dream agent to my submissions process … I hardly ever cry, but I’m tearing up as I write, because it has been three months in which, every single day, I have literally seen myself and my book take one step and another, closer, towards catching that bright, bright star of my dream.
I’ve kept my writing dream a secret my entire life — less than ten people knew I was working towards finishing a book for most of 2017 (until I joined Twitter!). Most of my friends are in finance, or in the non-book-world — so they respected my
Amelie Wen Zhao
dream, but it was quickly put to the back of their minds, just because it was such a far-off, distant, and unthinkable dream that was completely, galactically, out of my life. Even my boyfriend, the love of my life, had his moments where he forgot that my lifelong dream was to publish a book.
Despite all that — despite the fact that probably three people had read my work, ever — I kept going.
And now, I’ve reached the stars.
So you — yes, you — if you’re reading this and you have a lifelong dream, a passion that burns a fire within you, remember this story. Just one year ago, I was questioning everything I had ever dreamed; I was wondering what if everything I’d been working towards and reaching towards was hopeless after all? But I had this passion blazing within me, brighter than the fire of stars, and I knew I could not live a life without trying to reach those stars.
For now, I’m allowing myself some peace of mind. After countless years of honing my craft and quietly smithing my words with no recognition, I have reached my stars.
Don’t give up.
Well, guess what? The book, which had positive buzz (Barnes & Noble called it one of the most anticipate YA releases of the year), has been the subject of a massive Social Justice Warrior pile-on on social media, as Jesse Singal discussed in a tweetstorm. Very few people have even read the novel, but the mob attacked it as racist for a variety of reasons, one of them being that Zhao created a fantasy world where “oppression is blind to skin color” (this, from the press release). It’s a fantasy world, and people haven’t even read the book, but the mob was certain that Blood Heir is racist, and that its author — a young woman raised in Beijing, but now living in New York City — ought to be shut down.
Today, they got their wish:
They shamed this woman into surrendering her dream! This immigrant from communist China has submitted to the verdict of an online struggle session, straight out of Mao’s Cultural Revolution! As one Twitter commenter said:
These monsters have to be stopped. We cannot let them win. I am so sorry that Amelie Wen Zhao surrendered to them, and their cruelty. If you read her blog post from January 2018 announcing the deal, you can see her Achilles heel:
I write fantasy, but my story draws inspiration from themes I see in the real world today. As a foreigner in Trump’s America, I’ve been called names and faced unpleasant remarks — and as a non-citizen, I’ve felt like I have no voice — which is why I’ve channeled my anger, my frustration, and my need for action into the most powerful weapon I have: my words.
BLOOD HEIR is an examination of what makes us different from those around us — be it the horrific ability to manipulate blood or the many reasons why my characters are a band of outcasts — and how we internalize others’ fears of the things that make us stand out. It is a journey of self-acceptance, and a realization that we cannot change who we are or what we are born with, but we can choose what we do with what we are given. It is a story of friendship and love that extend beyond prejudices. And above all, it is a call to action: a message to young readers that it is our choices, not our birthright or race or title, that ultimately define us. Each of us has the choice — and more than that, the responsibility — to stand up and fight for what we believe is right.
We live in a world where I see so many others hurting, like me; where I see fear used as a weapon by those who choose to hate; where I see the age-old monster of prejudice drawing lines between those who are different. My pen is my sword, my words are my voice, and I hope BLOOD HEIR will be a guiding light to those who need it most.
Donald Trump didn’t destroy Amelie Wen Zhao’s dreams. People wearing #MAGA hats didn’t shame her into withdrawing her debut novel. Progressives on social media did. These people are the enemy. They colonized her mind, and caused her — a Chinese immigrant! — to hate herself. I hope that they haven’t broken her spirit. Orwell, in these final lines from 1984, understands what they’ve done to her:
He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.
Amelie Wen Zhao has learned to love Big Brother.
When nobody fights, the alternative becomes Big Brother. When the time came there were no Sad Puppies for Miss Zhao. No public backlash against the SJW onslaught probably from the likes of the Neilson Haydens and the rest. The puppy kickers aren’t going to stop. They won’t like us because the Sad Puppies no longer expose them to the dangers of wrongfans having wrongfun. They will keep kicking anybody they don’t like out of every con they can, they will not stop sayin bad things about the Sad Puppies, ever. Here’s a case in point:
Of course the kickers are all morally telling fandom to sing up for a Worldcon supporting membership:
Because NK Jemison is the bestest bestest writer ever.
Why You Should Vote In The Hugo Awards
N.K. Jemisin’s third Hugo win for The Stone Sky last year made her the first person to win three consecutive Hugos. But that almost didn’t happen. Anyone who’s read The Broken Earth Trilogy knows these books are some of the best SFF written. Ever.
Yet in 2015, a white supremacist gamergate faction calling themselves the sad puppies (and also later the rabid puppies) decided that books with social themes (like Jemisin’s) were taking over SFF awards, and they would put a stop to it. Alex Acks gives an excellent analysis of the mess, but essentially, the sad puppies lost because SFF fans didn’t let them take over the Hugo Awards, and some of the rules changed. Fans became voting members in record numbers and voted the racists out.
But now is not the time to rest on our Jemisin laurels. If you want to read diverse and imaginative SFF, see diverse authors honored for their excellent work, and subvert racist schemes, then buy a membership and vote (if you’re financially able).
This is what happens in a bubble. The problem is that nothing good comes of this kind of behavior and by retreating and acquiescing to it, the behavior is normalized. The puppy kickers didn’t stop when Sarah dropped the Sad Puppies. They went on to find other helpless puppies like the young lady here to kick. They can’t help themselves. The only problem is that stomping one creator means that dozens more will not even start. That is Ok for the kickers, who only want one point of view expressed. For the rest of us, not so much.
The rise of the corporate dominance over publishing has created the environment where a limited number of
Larry is his usual self.
After all the fire, the desire to destroy the puppy kickers won. They burned down science fiction to save it. The Hugo awards are returned to the proper order.
In the end. what did the kicker achieve? Readership and print runs are still shrinking. The business is declining and the literature of the future and big ideas has become the realm of small blithering about irrelevancies. The giant who pointed us at the stars are gone and the light has gone out of the vision. That is the saddest part of the whole thing after all.